So far, in the fifth year of a Syrian civil war with no end in sight, nearly half the prewar population of 22 million people is classified as refugees or is internally displaced within Syria. As of Friday, according to the United Nations refugee agency, there are just under 4.1 million official registered Syrian refugees — 2.1 million in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, 1.9 million in Turkey and 24,000 registered in North Africa.
But only 12 percent of the 4.1 million are in actual refugee camps, with the rest doing their best to survive with shrinking aid in regional countries that are not always welcoming.
By comparison, just 428,735 Syrians applied for asylum in Europe between April 2011 and August 2015 — 138,016 in 2014.
So far this year, the refugee agency says, more than 442,440 refugees and migrants have arrived via the Mediterranean, about 51 percent of them Syrian, and 2,921 people have died trying. Every day, some 4,000 people are arriving in Greece.
The numbers coming to Europe are comparatively small, Ms. Fleming said, but they seem larger because of Europe’s dysfunctional asylum system. “It’s this chaos which makes it look like it’s unmanageable,” she said.
Steven Erlanger and Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, “U.N. Funding Shortfalls and Cuts in Refugee Aid Fuel Flight to Europe”, The New York Times (20 September 2015), 15.