Refugee arrivals in January 2016 dwarf 2015 numbers
Over 21 times more refugees have arrived in Greece this month than in all of January 2015, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported on Tuesday.
Since the beginning of 2016, IOM said 31,244 migrants and refugees had arrived in Greece by sea, compared with the 1,472 recorded arrivals on the Greek islands in January last year.
“This is a huge jump,” spokesman Itayi Viriri told reporters in Geneva, warning that it does not bode well for the rest of the year.
“If the trend as it is now continues then certainly were looking at another record number,” he cautioned.
In 2015, more than one million migrants and refugees made the perilous Mediterranean crossing to Europe – nearly half of them Syrians fleeing a civil war that has been raging for nearly five years.
Although the number of arrivals in Greece last year was initially small, by the end of the year the country alone saw well over 850,000 arrivals.
IOM said Tuesday that nearly 90 per cent of those who have arrived in Greece so far this year are Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis.
Most of them are not staying in Greece. IOM cited numbers from Greek police showing that nearly 31,000 migrants had crossed the border to Macedonia since the beginning of the month.
Italy, which counted nearly 154,000 arrivals in 2015, has meanwhile seen 607 migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, rescued in the Channel of Sicily since January 1, IOM said.
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