A Million Crossed The Mediterranean Sea in 2015

Society | January 03, 2016
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Persecution, conflict and poverty have forced an unprecedented one million people to flee to Europe in 2015, according to estimates by the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration, IOM.

During 2015, some 1,008,616 had crossed the Mediterranean Sea, according to UNHCR figures. In addition, IOM estimates that over 34,000 have crossed from Turkey into Bulgaria and Greece by land.

The number of people displaced by war and conflict is the highest seen in Western and Central Europe since the 1990s, when several conflicts broke out in the former Yugoslavia.

One-in-every-two of those crossing the Mediterranean this year – half a million people – were Syrians escaping the war in their country. Afghans accounted for 20% and Iraqis for seven per cent.

Over 800,000 refugees and migrants came via the Aegean Sea from Turkey into Greece, accounting for 80% of the people arriving irregularly in Europe by sea this year. At the same time, the number of people crossing from North Africa into Italy dropped slightly, from 170,000 in 2014 to around 150,000 in 2015.

The number of people crossing the Mediterranean increased steadily from around 5,500 in January to reach a monthly peak in October of over 221,000. Meanwhile, more than 3,600 people died or went missing.