Migrant crossings to Europe crosses 83 percent in 1st half on 2015: UN 


July 1, Berlin: The number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to southern Europe has crosses 80 percent in the first half of 2015 than a year earlier, the U.N. refugee agency said Wednesday.

The routes taken by refugees and migrants also shifted, with Greece overtaking Italy to become the primary point of arrival, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said.

Data from Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain showed 137,000 people arriving there between January and June, an 83-percent increase from 75,000 in the first half of last year, the agency said in a report.

By far, the largest group of refugees was from Syria. In all, 43,900 Syrians arrived in Europe by sea, 34 percent of the total. Eritreans accounted for 12 percent of the new arrivals and Afghans 11 percent.

UNHCR said that the number of people who died making the risky crossing totaled 1,867, up from 588 a year earlier.

However, it said there was a dramatic drop after an unprecedented 1,308 people died in April. The agency counted 68 deaths in May and 12 in June, a fraction of the number reported a year earlier.

Over the whole of 2014, more than 75 percent of refugees and migrants making the sea crossing to Europe landed in Italy, while Greece received less than one-fifth.

However, over this year’s first six months, 68,000 people landed on the Greek islands — slightly more than the 67,500 who arrived in Italy, UNHCR said.

 The Oslo Times

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