A woman carries her child along the platform as she and other migrants and refugees prepare to board a train after crossing the Greek-Macedonian border near the town of Gevgelija. (AFP)
AFP on News24
Geneva - The vast majority of Syrian refugees arriving in Greece may be highly educated, including a significant number of students, according to new UN data.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) released a provisional profile of those who have made the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean Sea after fleeing Syria's civil war, based on questionnaires given to 1 245 people who landed in Greece between April and September.
The agency stressed that the data was not collected through random sampling and cannot be used to make general statements applicable to the entire Syrian refugee community in Europe.
But a full 86% of those who took the questionnaire said they had secondary school education or higher.
Sixty-three percent said they had left Syria in 2015, while 85% said they successfully made it to Greece on their first try.
"Student" was the most common profession listed by the 1 139 people who responded to that question - at 16% - with merchant and trader the next most common responses.
UNHCR said this first-of-its-kind survey was part of a larger project aimed at "understanding the refugee population [which] is critical to ensuring greater responsibility among European Union" states who are being called upon to resettle Syrian refugees in greater numbers.
Research with randomly selected people with "a more comprehensive scope" will begin this month, UNHCR spokesperson Karin de Gruijl said.
Refugees, and particularly Syrians, crossed the Mediterranean in 2015 at nearly four times the 2014 rate.
The UN has said the number of migrant and refugee arrivals in Europe for 2015 could top one million by the end of the year.