Migrant year to date

63

Cold, hunger and danger – these are conditions people face when they flee their countries, often risking their lives to escape circumstances ranging from poverty to war.

About four million people were reported stateless at the end of last year with the true global figure estimated significantly higher, according to the UN refugee agency.

Between 2018 and 2020, an average of between 290 000 and 340 000 children a year were born into a refugee life.

Below is an overview of struggles people leaving their homelands faced so far this year.

JANUARY

In Bosnia, dozens of people, some fleeing conflict in Afghanistan, shelter in abandoned buildings in and around north-western town Bihac. They wrap up as best they can against snow and frost as they queue to reach European Union-member Croatia across the border.

Thousands of Hondurans, including families with children, cross the border at El Florido to Guatemala, hoping to reach the United States. Skirmishes break out at the border and Guatemalan authorities use sticks and tear gas to beat back people fleeing poverty and violence.

FEBRUARY

Spanish police in the North African enclave Melilla rescue people hiding in waste containers, including one inside a plastic bag of toxic ash, as they try to make their way to the Spanish mainland.

German NGO ship Sea-Watch rescues more than 360 people from dinghies off the Libyan coast. The central Mediterranean migration route from Sub-Saharan Africa to Italy is known as one of the world’s deadliest.

MARCH

Deteriorating security and economic conditions in Mexico and the Northern Triangle – Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – led to the biggest rise in the number of migrants at the United States’ south-western border in 20 years, with President Joe Biden’s administration battling to handle an influx of children trying to cross the border alone.

MAY

Spain deploys troops to the Spanish enclave Ceuta in northern Africa to patrol the border with Morocco after around 8 000 people enter the North African enclave swimming in or climbing over the fence.

Around two-thirds of the people who made it to Ceuta, including unaccompanied children, are expelled by Spanish authorities with many saying they will try to reach Europe again.

JUNE

Thousands of Belarusians escaping a political crackdown by President Alexander Lukashenko flee to neighbouring Poland, where nearly 10 000 applied for humanitarian visas or asylum in the past year.

Rescue organisations in the Mediterranean call for an end to people handed to Libyan authorities due to reports of ill treatment.

More than 40 Africans are rescued and four die,after their boat ran aground on the Lanzarote coast in Spain’s Canary Islands, while more than 100 people make it safely to other islands.

A total of 8 222 people arrived in the Canaries illegally between January 1 and August 15, more than double from the same period of last year, according to Interior Ministry data.

JULY

Lithuania accuses Belarus of flying in would-be migrants and asylum-seekers to send to the European Union and begins building a 550-km razor wire barrier to prevent illegal crossings.

Belarus decided to allow migrants to cross into EU member Lithuania in response to sanctions imposed by the bloc.

Afghans who manage to make the weeks-long journey through Iran on foot to the Turkish border face a three-metre high wall, ditches or barbed wire as Turkish authorities step up efforts to block refugee influx into the country.

Turkey detains nearly 1 500 people near the Iranian border in a week amid rising violence in Afghanistan.

France and Britain agree to deploy more police and invest in detection technology on the French coast to stop boats packed with people making the perilous voyage across the English Channel.

“It was a way of dying,” Abdullah Al Badri, an asylum seeker from Kuwait, told Reuters in London when describing how it felt getting onto a boat. “You say ‘okay’, it’s the last point, I’m going to try (at risk of) my life.”

AUGUST

Greece completes a 40 km fence, guarded by soldiers carrying rifles and equipped with hi-tech monitoring system, on its border with Turkey to stop possible asylum seekers from reaching Europe after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

Afghan migrants stranded in Serbia watch in dismay as the Islamist militants take over back home. According to authorities, there are around 4 500 migrants in government-operated camps across Serbia, 1 200 of them from Afghanistan.

A ship carrying 257 people, mainly from Morocco, Bangladesh, Egypt and Syria, rescued from international waters off Tunisia, docks in the Italian port of Trapani accompanied by applause from those aboard.

SEPTEMBER

Britain approves plans to turn away boats illegally carrying people to its shores, deepening a diplomatic rift with France on how to deal with a rise of people crossinhg the Channel in small dinghies.

More than 10 000 mostly Haitian people live in a squalid camp under a bridge in southern Texas as hundreds more head toward the border in a growing humanitarian and political challenge for US President Joe Biden.

The Haitians are joined by Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans under the Del Rio International Bridge across the Rio Grande connecting Ciudad Acuña in Mexico to Del Rio, Texas. They sleep under light blankets, while some pitched small tents.