Refugees and migrants are likely to continue to arrive in Europe at a rate of up to 5,000 per day via Turkey this winter, the United Nations said on Thursday, appealing for more funds to avert tragedy in Greece and the Balkans in coming months.
More than 760,000 people have already crossed the Mediterranean so far this year, mainly to Greece and Italy, after fleeing wars in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as conflicts in Eritrea and other parts of Africa.
“Harsh weather conditions in the region are likely to exacerbate the suffering of the thousands of refugees and migrants landing in Greece and travelling through the Balkans, and may result in further loss of life if adequate measures are not taken urgently,” the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.
“UNHCR's new winter plan anticipates that there could be up to 5,000 arrivals per day from Turkey between November 2015 and February 2016,” it said.
The agency is seeking an additional $96.15 million to support Croatia, Greece, Serbia, Slovenia and the former Republic of Macedonia, bringing the total amount that it is trying to raise for Europe's refugee crisis to $172.7 million.
The fresh funds will be used to upgrade shelter and reception facilities for winter conditions, and to supply family tents and housing units equipped with heating, the statement said. Sanitation and water supply systems will also be improved.
“Winter clothing and blankets, as well as other essential items for protecting people from the elements, will be included in the aid packages to be distributed to individuals with specific needs,” it said.
More children are joining the ranks of refugees streaming into Europe, with some families taking a new route from Turkey to Bulgaria to avoid crossing rough seas to Greece as winter sets in, the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Wednesday.