Migrants walk towards the Austrian border after arriving by train in the village of Sentilj, Slovenia, 20 October 2015. Photo: Leonhard Foeger / REUTERS

GREECE, 22 December 2015 (IOM) – IOM confirmed yesterday (21 December 2015) that over a million irregular migrants and refugees arrived in Europe in 2015, mostly from Syria, Africa, and South Asia.

Through the weekend, IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix - Flow Monitoring System counted 999,745 irregular arrivals across the Mediterranean, including migrants journeying by both land and sea to Greece, as well as to Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, Malta, and Cyprus.

With arrivals of 4,141 migrants or refugees landing in Greece on Monday, IOM reports total arrivals to Europe at roughly 1,005,504, with just 3% coming by land.  The total is the highest migration flow since World War II.

The tally of fatalities also continues to rise, with 20 new deaths recorded in the Eastern Mediterranean since last Friday. This year’s total of migrant/refugee deaths now stands at 3,692 - over 400 more than in 2014 - plus at least 30 more deaths reported by African migrants seeking to enter Europe through Spain’s Canary Islands.

IOM Greece continues to monitor fatalities in the Greek islands, where a growing number of victims are young children. On 19 December a wooden boat carrying 62 migrants capsized off Chios Island and a 2-year old Iraqi boy drowned. According to the Greek Coast Guard, six of the 15 bodies of migrants and refugees to wash up on Greek islands this month have been infants or children.

“We know migration is inevitable, necessary and desirable,” said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing.  “But it’s not enough to count the number of those arriving - or the nearly 4,000 this year reported missing or drowned. We must also act. Migration must be legal, safe and secure for all - both for the migrants themselves and the countries that will become their new homes.”

In December alone, IOM estimates that 67,700 or more migrants have crossed into Greece through the country’s maritime borders.  During the same period, some 52,500 people crossed from Greece into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYRoM.) This means that roughly 77% of all migrant arrivals in December already have passed through Greece and into FYROM and other points further north.

Since the beginning of the year, IOM estimates that over 810,000 migrants and refugees have crossed into Greece by sea. Only about 5,000 migrants have crossed into Greece by land.

According to IOM’s monitoring system between 9-20 December 45.6% of migrants crossing Greece’s FYRoM border were male adults; 21.9% were female adults; 35% were accompanied children and 1.5% unaccompanied minors. The vast majority are Syrians, followed by Iraqi and Afghans, as no other nationalities are now allowed to cross.

IOM is offering assisted voluntary return to their country of origin for migrants who have been turned back from the border. An increasing number of migrants, notably Moroccans, are expressing an interest, given the lack of other options to return home safely.

For the latest updates on arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean please visit www.Migration.iom.int/Europe

For further information please contact IOM Greece: Daniel Esdras Tel: +30 210 9912174 Email: iomeathens@iom,.int or Kelly Namia, Tel: +302109919040, +302109912174, Email: Knamia@iom.int

Irregular Migrant, Refugee Arrivals in Europe Top One Million in 2015: IOM

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