The spatial and temporal dimensions of the recent refugee and migration crisis in Greece

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The aim of this paper is to study the temporal and spatial dimension of the current refugee and migration crisis in Europe focusing in the area of Greece. While the average illegal immigration to Greece was at the scale of one hundred persons per year during the 2000s and early 2010s, it increased tenfold in 2015 approaching a million people entering Greece mainly by sea. The first two months of 2016, despite the bad weather conditions, 130,000 people came to Greece by sea compared to nearly 9,000 people entering Greece in January and February 2015. By using data from the Hellenic Police and Coast Guard as well as the UNHCR, this paper attempts to map the entry points and temporary settlement of refugees and immigrants in Greece over time. Because of their proximity to the west coast of Turkey, the islands of Chios, Lesvos, Samos, Leros, Kos and Kastellorizo receive most of the immigrants. In some cases, such as in Kastellorizo, the refugees/immigrants significantly outnumber the local population who are not able to provide for the former as it would be culturally expected in Greece. Unfortunately, the Greek Government initially underestimated the scale and urgency of the problem and only recently, under international pressure, decided to act. With the western Balkan route to Western Europe currently being closed after unilateral decisions being made, most of the recently arrived refugees/immigrants have been forced to reside in Greece and gradually they are distributed across the country.

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