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UNHCR Number of refugees, migrants fleeing to Europe reach 1m in 2015 - Refugees Commission says

The figure showed that at least 3,600 migrants died or went missing in the crossings.

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Sadness engulfed the world as thousands of Syrian migrants died at sea play

Sadness engulfed the world as thousands of Syrian migrants died at sea

(bbc)

The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) says the number of refugees and migrants fleeing to Europe in 2015 has topped an unprecedented one million.

This is according to the latest figures compiled by UNHCR together with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

The figure showed that at least 3,600 migrants died or went missing in the crossings.

It also said that the number of people displaced by war and conflict was the highest in Western and Central Europe since the 1990s, when several conflicts broke out in the former Yugoslavia.

The UN agency said that one in every two of those crossing the Mediterranean this year, representing half a million people, were Syrians escaping war.

It explained further that Afghans accounted for 20 per cent and Iraqis for seven per cent.

According to UNHCR figures, as of Dec. 21, some 972,500 people have crossed the Mediterranean Sea, while IOM estimates that over 34,000 have crossed from Turkey into Bulgaria and Greece by land, for a total of more than 1,006,500.

It said that over 800,000 refugees and migrants came via the Aegean Sea from Turkey into Greece.

This, the agency said accounts for 80 per cent of those arriving irregularly in Europe by sea, while the number of those crossing from North Africa into Italy dropped slightly, from 170,000 in 2014 to around 150,000 in 2015.

Over the year, it said that the number of people crossing the Mediterranean increased steadily from around 5,500 in January to a monthly peak in October of over 221,000.

It would be recalled that the UNHCR launched an emergency response to complement European efforts.

UNHCR said much more needed to be done to reinforce required reception capacity at points of entry and allow for the humane and effective accommodation, aid, registration and screening to identify those in need of protection.

At the same time, UNHCR continues to call for safe, regular ways for refugees to find safety through more resettlement and humanitarian admission programmes.

The agency also called for more flexible visa arrangements, more private sponsorship programmes and other possibilities.

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