According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), approximately 36,000 migrants and asylum seekers have arrived in these five countries so far this year. There were 123,318 in the whole of last year, Reuters has reported.
So far, migrant numbers in southern Europe remain well below the figure of 2015, when more than a million people fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East arrived in the five countries. However, there are fears of a new wave of migration due to food shortages caused by the war in Ukraine.
On Friday, U.N. crisis coordinator, Amin Awad, warned that a shortage of wheat and other commodities could affect 1.4 billion people. He added that further negotiations on the unblocking of Ukrainian ports are needed to prevent famine and mass migration.
Russia and Ukraine account for almost a third of global wheat supplies. In addition, Russia is a crucial exporter of fertilizers, and Ukraine is a significant supplier of corn and sunflower oil.
“If wheat remains blocked in Black Sea ports, we must expect a greater (migrant) flow,” Italian interior minister Luciana Lamorgese said on Sky TG24 on Friday.