Southern Europe expects over 150,000 migrant arrivals this year, minister says

A group of migrants sit waiting to be questioned by border police, at the port of Arguineguin, on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain, May 12, 2022. REUTERS/Borja Suarez/File Photo

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MILAN, June 4 (Reuters) – Mediterranean countries on key migration routes to Europe are expecting more than 150,000 arrivals this year as food shortages caused by the conflict in Ukraine threaten a new wave of migration from Africa and the Middle East.

“This year, the frontline member states are expected, as we have discussed among ourselves, to receive more than 150,000 migrants,” Cypriot Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said on Saturday after a meeting with fellow ministers of the country. group called MED5 in Venice.

Some 36,400 asylum seekers and migrants have already landed in Italy, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Malta this year, after 123,318 arrivals in 2021, according to the UN refugee agency.

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The overall numbers, however, remain significantly lower than in 2015, when more than one million migrants reached the five countries fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East.

A shortage of wheat and other grains could affect 1.4 billion people, UN crisis coordinator Amin Awad said on Friday, adding that further negotiations were needed to unblock Ukrainian ports to avert famine. and massive migrations in the world.

Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies, while Russia is also a major fertilizer exporter and Ukraine a major supplier of corn and sunflower oil.

“If the wheat remains blocked in the Black Sea ports, we should expect a greater flow (of migrants),” Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese told SkyTG24 on Friday. “We are worried, like all frontline countries.”

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Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Editing by Christina Fincher

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