137 000 Migrants Crossed Mediterranean Sea into Europe in First Half of 2015World | July 1, 2015, Wednesday // 12:17| views
According to the latest report of UNHCR, which was released on Wednesday, 137 000 crossed the Mediterranean Sea into Europe in the first half of 2015.
A large majority of the people making the dangerous sea crossing between January and June were fleeing war, conflict or persecution, making the current Mediterranean crisis primarily a refugee crisis.
One third of the 137 000 men, women and children, who arrived by sea in Italy or Greece were from Syria, whose nationals are almost universally deemed to qualify for refugee status
The second and third most common countries of origin were Afghanistan and Eritrea, whose nationals also qualify for refugee status in most cases.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said that most of the people arriving by sea in Europe are refugees, seeking protection from war and persecution.
Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain recorded 83 % increase in refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean between January and June.
Traditionally, the number of crossings considerably increases in the second half of the year, in particular during the summer months, so it is expected that their number will continue to rise.
According to figures from last year, crossings in the second half of 2014 were almost double those of the first half.
Deaths at sea also rose to record levels in April, when 1308 refugees and migrants drowned or went missing.
The report concludes that the eastern Mediterranean route from Turkey into Greece has substituted the central Mediterranean one from North Africa to Italy as the the main source of maritime arrivals.
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