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
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