Number of Migrants, Refugees Fleeing to Europe in 2015 Surpasses One Million

World | December 22, 2015, Tuesday // 14:05|  views

Refugees wait to cross the borders close to Idomeni village, Kilkis, northern Greece, near the border of Greece with FYROM, 18 December 2015. Photo: EPA

The number of migrants and refugees who have arrived in Europe in 2015 surpassed one million.

Last week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) had estimated that their number will certainly surpass one million by the end of the year and this was confirmed on Monday.

The people fleeing persecution, conflict and poverty are mainly from Syria, Africa and south Asia, with every second to have crossed the Mediterranean this year being Syrian.

During the weekend, IOM counted 999 745 irregular arrivals across the Mediterranean, including migrants travelling by both land and sea to Greece as well as Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, Malta and Cyprus.

With 4141 migrants or refugees landing in Greece on Monday, IOM reports that the total arrivals to Europe reached 1 005 504, with just 3 % coming by land.

This is the highest migration flow since the Second World War  and the largest number of people displaced by war and conflict in western and central Europe since the 1990s.

The number of fatalities also continues to grow, with twenty new deaths recorded in the eastern Mediterranean since Friday and at least thirty more deaths reported by African migrants seeking to enter Europe through the Canary islands.

So far this year, the total number of migrant deaths amounts to 3692, which represents an increase of more than 400 compared to last year.

IOM continues to monitor fatalities in the Greek islands where a growing number of victims are young children.

According to the Greek coast guard, six of the fifteen bodies of migrants to have appeared on the Greek shore this month have been infants or children.

In December alone, 67 700 or more migrants have crossed into Greece through the country's maritime borders.

During the same period, 52 500 people or 77 % of all migrants to have arrived in Greece in December have crossed from the country into Macedonia.

Between December 9 and 20, 45.6 % of migrants crossing the Greek-Macedonian border were male adults, 21.9 % were female adults, 35 % were accompanied children and 1.5 % unaccompanied minors.

The greatest majority were Syrians, followed by citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan as these are the only nationalities currently allowed to cross.

Greece continues to be the largest recipient of migrants with a total of 821 008 to have arrived in the country since the beginning of this year, followed by Italy with 150 317 and Bulgaria.

As of December 21, a total of 29 959 migrants have arrived in Bulgaria since the beginning of the year, all of them coming by land.

The number of people crossing the Mediterranean increased steadily from around 5500 in January and reached a monthly peak of more than 221 000 in October.

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Tags: europe, migrants, refugees, IOM, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, Asia, greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Spain, Malta, Cyprus, Mediterranean


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