Estonia has agreed to relocate 130 migrants, that is people who are in need of international protection but have not yet been granted refugee status, from Italy or Greece. In addition, it will resettle 20 refugees currently based in refugee camps outside the European Union.
Speculations on who those people are and where they come from have split the society. A UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) report from July 1 provides some clues.
According to the UNHCR, in the first six months of 2015, 137,000 people arrived in Europe by sea. That compares to 75,000 in the same period in 2014 – an 83 percent increase, and the numbers are expected to rise still.
In 2015, by far the largest number – 34 percent – of all arrivals hailed from Syria. Based on the practice from 2014, the majority of these people are expected to be granted refugee status or some form of international protection.
The second and third-largest donor countries are Eritrea and Afghanistan, with 12 and 11 percent of total maritime arrivals respectively. In 2014, 89 percent of asylum-seekers from Eritrea and 63 percent of those from Afghanistan received protection from the EU. Somalia, Nigeria, Gambia and various sub-Saharan countries also provide a notable number of refugees.
"The majority of those arriving in Europe in the first six months of 2015 were men, searching for a safe place to live and work before attempting to reunite later with their families. But they also included large numbers of women and children, including thousands of unaccompanied and separated children," the report says.
Of all refugees and migrants arriving in Italy in 2015, 8 percent were unaccompanied and separated children. This included 9 percent of those arriving from Eritrea and 10 percent of Somalis: the two top countries of origin.
Although not much more information about the refugees has been released, the answers to a survey conducted by UNHCR about Syrian refugees in Greece gives a faint glimpse, if selective, to who those people are. Of the 670 respondents, 83 percent were male, mostly of Arab Sunni origin. 40 percent claimed to university educated and another 46 percent to have secondary education.
Majority had arrived in Greece through Turkey and more than half intended to apply for family reunification once they arrived in the EU.
However, the majority of the refugees stay outside of the EU borders, with Turkey, Pakistan and Lebanon each hosting over one million displaced persons at the end of 2014. According to the latest estimations, the latter only has a population of less than 4.5 million, meaning there are 232 displaced people per 1,000 inhabitants in Lebanon. Iran, Ethiopia, Jordan and Kenya also remain major refugee-hosting countries.
Editor: M. Oll