Refugees and migrants face heightened risks while trying to reach Europe.




Category: the Journey   - Activity 2 : Reading and writing


In a new report, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, details the impact of the increased border restrictions introduced in 2016 on refugee and migrant movements towards and inside Europe. It shows that people continued to move but undertook more diversified and dangerous journeys, often relying on smugglers because of the lack of accessible legal ways to Europe.


After the “closure” of the Western Balkan route and the EU-Turkey Statement in March 2016, the number of people reaching Greece via the Eastern Mediterranean route drastically decreased. The Central Mediterranean route from North Africa to Italy has since become the primary entry point to Europe. However, arrival trends in Italy show that the primary nationalities who crossed to Greece had not switched in significant numbers to the Central Mediterranean route.


In total, some 181,436 people arrived in Italy in 2016 by sea, out of which 90 per cent travelled by boat from Libya. Those who came to Italy in 2016 include people in need of international protection, and also victims of trafficking and migrants seeking better lives. The top two nationalities of those arriving in Italy were Nigerians (21%) and Eritreans (11%). A striking feature is the increasing number of unaccompanied and separated children making the journey, over 25,000 in 2016. They represented 14% of all new arrivals in Italy and their number more than doubled compared to the previous year.

The journey to Italy is particularly dangerous, with more deaths at sea in the Mediterranean recorded in 2016 than ever before. Of the 5,096 refugees and migrants reported dead or missing at sea last year, 90% travelled along the sea route to Italy, amounting to one death for every 40 people crossing.


In addition, UNHCR has received deeply worrying reports of refugees and migrants kidnapped, held against their will for several days, physically and sexually abused, tortured or extorted by smugglers and criminal gangs at several points along key routes. “This report clearly shows that the lack of accessible and safe pathways leads refugees and migrants to take enormous risks while attempting to reach Europe, including those simply trying to join family members.” said Vincent Cochetel, Director of UNHCR’s Europe Bureau.


UNHCR report-  27 February 2017


1)    Read the text and answer the questions

1.    Did people stop moving after the restrictions?

2.    What has become the primary entry point to Europe?

3.    What were the two top nationalities coming to Italy?

4.    Where do this people come from today?

5.    What are the main risks encountered before and during the journey?



2)    The words travel, journey, trip and voyage can easily be confused by learners of English.  Read the explanation and complete the exercises.


Travel (noun)

The noun travel is a general word, meaning to move from place to place, usually over long distances.

We can say: air travelfood and travelspace travelbusiness travela travel agency.

  • Air travel is getting more expensive.
  • The magazine is a food and travel guide.

We can also say travels, which is a plural noun:

  • Where did you go on your travels?
  • Jack Kerouac wrote many books about his travels.

Travel is also a verb:

  • I travel 20 km to work every day.

Journey (noun) 

journey means moving from one place to another, especially in a vehicle. It is a single piece of travel. A journey can also be a regular thing.

Here is an example. Let’s say we go from London to Leeds then back again. That is two journeys (London to Leeds is the first journey, Leeds to London is the second journey).

We can say: a bus journeya train journeythe journey to schoolmy journey to work.

Be careful with the plural: journeys NOT journies.

  • How long does your journey to work take?
  • Did you have a good journey?
  • Did you have a good travel?

Trip (noun)

trip describes the whole process of going somewhere and coming back. (It is more than one journey).

Once again, let’s go from London to Leeds then back again. As I said above, that is two journeys, but it is one trip.

Some examples: a day trip, a round tripa round-the-world trip, a boat trip and a business tripWe say go on a trip.

  • We went on a three-week trip to Scotland.
  • He’s gone on a business trip to Germany.
  • Let’s go on a trip to the mountains this summer!
  • The trip there took three hours. The journey there took three hours.

Voyage (noun)

Voyages are less common nowadays. voyage is a very long trip, usually at sea or in space:

  • At the age of twenty-three, Sir Francis Drake made his first voyage to the New World.
  • A voyage around the world often took four or five years.

The French Bon voyage! translates into English as Have a good trip! or Have a good journey! or Have a safe journey back home!

I hope that’s clear. Here’s a quick exercise for you to test your understanding:


Inizio modulo

 Inizio modulo

check | answers | reset

1 Steve's on a business  in South America. 

2 The  from Manchester to London by train takes about two and a half hours. 

3 My  to Spain lasted over two weeks. I went to Madrid, Valencia, Malaga and Granada. 

4 Eric Newby wrote a book about his  in Afghanistan in 1956. 

5 We  a trip to Paris to celebrate my wife's birthday. 

6 My  to work today was horrible. I was stuck in a traffic jam for two hours. 

7 Air  is much faster and cheaper nowadays compared to fifty or sixty years ago. 

check | answers | reset

key answer:  Fine modulo



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