UNICEF ECARO Humanitarian Situation Report No. 46 (Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe): 1 January to 31 December 2022



• In 2022, an estimated 321,918 refugees and migrantsi , arrived in Greece, Italy, Bulgaria,ii Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, mainly from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Syria, and North Africa. Overall, this presented a significant increase in arrivals of 86 per cent compared to 2021.

• In the six countries, UNICEF reached 33,173 children with child protection services, while 80,991 women, girls and boys accessed gender-based violence (GBV) risk mitigation, prevention or response intervention. Around 25,089 children gained access to education, while 4,084 schoolteachers were trained on inclusion of refugee/migrant children. 4,906 children and mothers accessed health and nutrition services and 263,488 people were reached with messaging on access to services.

• In 2022, UNICEF received US$ 33.9 million against its USD 42 million appeal. With US$ 5.7 million of carry-forward funding, the appeal was 95 per cent funded. UNICEF appreciates the generous contributions from its donors.

Funding Overview and Partnerships

At the end of 2022, UNICEF’s 2022 Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) appeal for the Refugee and Migrant Response in Europe was 95 percent funded (US$ 39.8 million), including US$ 5.7 million carry over from 2021 and US$ 33.9 million received in 2022. This included generous contributions from the European Union (EU) to Greece, for education, and to Italy, for child protection and adolescent engagement, which increased initially foreseen funding by 30 per cent and 8 per cent respectively. Additional generous contributions were received from the European Union (EU), UNICEF National Committees in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Norway and Sweden, and pooled Global Thematic Humanitarian funds. The response to urgent humanitarian needs of refugee children and families fleeing from Ukraine was supported under the Pillar 2 of the 2022 Ukraine Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) Appeal, aligned with the Inter-agency Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRP), and related results are reported under the Ukraine Refugee Response situation reports.

Flexible, timely resources were critical to enable UNICEF to support essential, evidence-based, national responses addressing immediate needs and mitigating longer-term impacts on vulnerable refugee and migrant children in Europe. While generous contributions were received, they were not equal among countries. Funding gaps remained particularly high in Montenegro (97 per cent), Bulgaria (95 per cent), Bosnia and Herzegovina (78 per cent), and Serbia (75 per cent), which significantly limited capacity to respond to needs and register progress against targets in critical support areas.

UNICEF continued to work with national authorities, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and other UN agencies, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), civil society organizations (CSOs), and religious leaders to ensure the rights of children and families on the move were protected.

Inter-agency coordination enabled effective emergency response, relocation of vulnerable children and families, and country-specific initiatives to ensure protection and basic services for populations in need. Working directly with governments and EU institutions, UNICEF and partners developed and delivered unified, coordinated advocacy messages and policy positions, promoting key child rights issues faced by refugee and migrant children.

Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs

Between January and December 2022, an estimated 321,918 refugees and migrantsiii arrived in Greece, Italy, Bulgaria,iv Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, mainly from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Syria, and North Africa.

Overall, a significant, 86 per cent increase in arrivals compared to 2021, in addition to the unprecedented arrivals of refugees from Ukraine in the region. At the end of 2022, over 132,815 refugees and migrants were estimated to be present in five countries,v including 47,392 children and 21,145 unaccompanied and separated children.

Political and economic developments in host countries, such as a transitionary government in Bulgaria, a new, right-wing government in Italy, and high inflation rates impacted the situation of refugee and migrants. In many countries stricter migration policies were observed, restricting disembarkation Italy, ending of the state-sponsored housing programme in Greece, and stricter visa regulations in Serbia. Other challenges to reaching refugees and migrants with services were high turnover rates at reception centres, establishment of informal settlements and involvement of smugglers, particularly close to EU borders.

The number of refugees and migrants coming to the region increased significantly due to a variety of root causes, including conflict, impacts of climate change, and food insecurity. The war in Ukraine triggered an unprecedented increase of refugee arrivals across Europevi and continued to put pressure on national systems in hosting countries, stretching capacities of governments to sustain equal access to quality services for refugee and migrant as well as host communities. Gaps included overcrowded and inadequate reception facilities – especially for unaccompanied and separated children, women, and girls.

Additional challenges were overstretched capacities to provide adequate sanitation and hygiene facilities, sufficient access to health and protection services and learning opportunities for children and families as well as insufficient measures to prevent and address GBV risk for women and girls. Insufficient mechanisms for identification and protection, case management and best interest determination of the child as well as limited availability of alternative care and legal guardianship options, exacerbated the vulnerability of children, especially those who were unaccompanied and separated.

Source: UN Children’s Fund