“The number of refugees and migrants arriving by sea to Europe decreased significantly in 2016 from 2015 with a further decrease since March mostly due to fewer people using the Eastern Mediterranean route. Most refugees and migrants entered the European Union (EU) through three primary routes: the Central Mediterranean route from North Africa to Italy, the Eastern Mediterranean route from Turkey to Greece, Bulgaria, and Cyprus, and the Western Mediterranean route from North Africa to Spain. The movement along these three routes, as well as onward movement through the Balkans and onwards from Italy are the focus of this short report analyzing trends in 2016. Despite border restrictions imposed at several points along key routes, thousands entered and moved through Europe each month with many likely to be in need of international protection.

Following the EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March and the closure of the so-called Western Balkans route, the Central Mediterranean again became the primary entry point to Europe with most departing from Libya but smaller numbers also arriving in Italy from Egypt and Turkey.

It is of great concern that cases of abuse and violence by smugglers and other criminal networks continued to take place throughout the region. Furthermore, reports of incidents of violence and push-backs by state authorities2 at several borders continued despite the prohibition on collective expulsions under European and international law and the potential for direct or indirect refoulement.