IOM: Migrants Flow to Europe Surpasses 110,000 in 2016

IOM: Migrants Flow to Europe Surpasses 110,000 in 2016
Tue Feb 23, 2016 18:08:54

Over 110,000 refugees have crossed the Mediterranean to Greece and Italy so far this year, says a leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration amid a huge influx of refugees into Europe.

According to the figures released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Tuesday, 102,547 people have arrived in Greece, while another 7,507 had entered Italy since the beginning of 2016.

"Over 410 migrants and refugees have also lost their lives during the same period, with the eastern Mediterranean route between Turkey and Greece continuing to be the deadliest, accounting for 321 deaths," the IOM said.

Last year, the 100,000 mark was not reached until the end of June, IOM spokesman Itayi Viriri stated.

He said approximately 35,000 asylum seekers had arrived on the Greek islands only in February, with Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis making up nearly half, a quarter and 17 percent of the sum, respectively.

Nearly all of those who reach the Greek shores try to move on, Viriri said, adding that an estimated 26,000 have already passed the Greek border.

Thousands of migrants have currently been left stranded in Greece as neighboring Macedonia has barred passage to Afghans and introduced tougher document checks for Syrians and Iraqis.

More ‘Chaos’ Expected amid European Border Closures

In a relevant development on Tuesday, the United Nations Refugee Agency, also known as the UNHCR, warned that border closures by European countries will result in "further chaos and confusion" triggered by the refugee crisis across the continent.

"I am very worried about the news that we are getting about increasing closures of European borders along the Balkans route because that will create further chaos and confusion," UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said during a visit to the Greek island of Lesbos.

UN refugee agency spokeswoman Karin de Gruijl also denounced Macedonia’s border closure and expressed concern about the profiling of refugees at the frontiers.

She said that “measures aimed at keeping refugees out” are creating “numerous hardships” for asylum seekers.

Most of refugees are fleeing conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria. Many blame the support by some Western countries' for militants operating in the Middle East as the main reason behind the refugee influx into Europe.

While a few European leaders support an open-door refugee policy, others are in favor of controlling EU’s external borders. They are deporting more people and paying third countries to keep asylum seekers on their soil.

More than one million refugees reached Europe’s shores in 2015, while over 3,700 people either died or went missing in their perilous journey into the continent, Press TV reported.

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