This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Refugee Movements into Europe are Slowing

Two reports out this week demonstrate that the flow of refugees into Europe is undergoing another shift. You'll recall that the first big shift came when the dangerous trip from Libya to Italy was replaced by the somewhat safer trip from Turkey to Greece. But the European Union has been working with Turkey to keep those people from leaving Turkey and so the flow through there has dropped substantially, as reported by the NYTimes.
The number of migrants arriving in Greece dropped 90 percent in April, the European Union border agency said on Friday, a sign that an agreement with Turkey to control traffic between the two countries is working.
The agency, Frontex, said 2,700 people arrived in Greece from Turkey in April, most of them from Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, a 90 percent decline from March.
Under the EU's agreement with Turkey, all migrants and refugees, including Syrians, who cross to Greece illegally across the sea are sent back.
In return, the EU will take in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey and reward it with more money, early visa-free travel and faster progress in EU membership talks.
This change especially affects Syrians, since that country borders Turkey and it was the most logical (logistically speaking) route to Europe. But that doesn't mean that others aren't back to the boats out of Libya, as BBC News has reported. 
In a report, the House of Lords EU Committee says Operation Sophia does not "in any meaningful way" disrupt smugglers' boats. Operation Sophia began in June 2015.
The destruction of wooden boats has forced the smugglers to use rubber dinghies, putting migrants at even greater risk, the document says.
At the time the conflicts in Syria and Iraq had begun fuelling an unprecedented flow of refugees from the Middle East to Europe. But the majority leaving Libya - itself wracked by fighting and human rights abuses - are migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.
Nonetheless, the flow of migrants into Europe from MENA has definitely slowed, as the chart below shows:

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