04 September 2015 #Immigration
The shocking images of the Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi, washed up on a Turkish beach this week have spawned social media campaigns such as “refugees welcome” and provoked many calls for action.
David Cameron has said that as a father he was “deeply moved” by the image but has argued that taking in more refugees was not the simple answer. However, it now appears that his stance is shifting amid pressure from public and political figures, including Boris Johnson who is looking to committing to London taking in refugees from Syria.
But what are the hard facts on applications for asylum to the UK and the rest of Europe from Syria in the current refugee crisis?
An estimated 4.1 million refugees are estimated to have been displaced by Syria’s civil war. Some 348,540 applications for asylum were made in Europe between April 2011 and July 2015, according to the UNHCR, with Germany and Sweden being the most popular places, receiving nearly half of the applications made. The UK has received just over 7,000 applications for asylum from Syrian nationals, significantly fewer than European partners like Austria (18,647) and Sweden (64,685). France received 6,657 asylum applications over the period and Spain received 5,554.
However, to put that in context, according to The Telegraph, in nearby countries like Turkey, the United Nation's High Commissioner for Refugees reports there being around 1.7 million refugees registered. Lebanon is host to around 1.2 million, a country 100 times smaller than Europe. Jordan has approximately 628,0000, Iraq approximately 247,861 and Egypt around 133,862.
Although increasing numbers of Syrians have come to Europe, the UNHCR notes that figure to be “comparatively low”, with around 6% of Syrians who have fled the conflict have sought safety in Europe".
Below are some further hard facts published by The Telegraph:
Number of migrants to have reached the Greek island of Lesbos in recent days. More than 4,000 made the trip on Saturday from the Turkish coast in rubber dinghies. The usual population of Lesbos is around 86,000
Proportion of migrants who are from Syria
Proportion of people in Lebanon who are refugees
Rate of migrants reaching Germany
Proportion of migrants who land in Italy and Greece, then get as far as Calais
Increase in the last three months of women as a proportion of the 3,000 migrants passing through Macedonia each day
Proportion of those women who are pregnant
Number of migrants registered in Europe since January 2015, according to the International Organisation for Migration
Whilst Europe is hugely divided on how to deal with the crisis in the longer term, it will be interesting to see how media reporting with vivid mages, particularly in the social media, will affect how governments respond to the immediate humanitarian issues.