1 million migrants crossed Mediterranean in 2015, UNHCR says

More than 1 million people risked their lives this year trying to reach Europe by sailing across the Mediterranean and more are arriving even after harsh weather set in, figures showed Wednesday. 

Some 848,000 arrived on Greek islands from Turkey, another 152,000 went from Libya to Italy and a few thousand sailed across the Strait of Gibraltar, bringing the total to 1,004,216, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said.

The number of arrivals was nearly five times more than last year and was up 16-fold from 2013.

There were 3,735 confirmed deaths by drowning, mostly on the Libya-Italy route.

Ferries collected some 3,000 who arrived on Aegean islands despite a winter storm and brought them to Athens Wednesday morning, the Greek coast guard said.

The overland Balkan route from Turkey has been the main point of entry for asylum seekers in Europe. The majority were Syrians, ahead of Afghans and Iraqis.

The rate of arrivals has declined in the winter months but authorities in the countries along the land route said the flow was far from slowing to a trickle in the last days of 2015.

Last update: Sat, 02/01/2016 - 07:54
Author: 

More from Europe

EU parliament rejects money laundering blacklist for being too short

European Union lawmakers Thursday rejected a blacklist compiled by the European Commission of countries deemed to be...

ECB leaves rates on hold as its ponders global uncertainties

The European Central Bank left its monetary policy on hold Thursday as it faces up to a slew of global economic and...

Britain's May woos investors, soothes voters in Davos

Britain will emerge as the global champion of free trade after leaving the European Union, British Premier Theresa...

Germany and Austria push for extension of border controls

Germany and Austria want to extend controls at their border amid ongoing security threats, the countries' interior...

Russia rejects European court ruling to pay former Yukos shareholders

Russia's Constitutional Court has rejected a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights to pay almost 2 billion...