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One million refugees, migrants enter Europe

More than one million migrants and refugees have entered Europe this year, according to an intergovernmental organisation.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says the million mark was crossed on Monday – a more than a four-fold increase in comparison with last year.

The actual number of arrivals recorded as having entered the continent by 21 December was 1,005,504.

The Geneva-based group says more than 800,000 crossed into Greece from Turkey during 2015, including more than 455,000 from Syria and over 186,000 from Afghanistan.

Nearly 3,700 others died trying to cross the Mediterranean amid Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II, it added.

It came as Turkish news agency Dogan reported 11 people, including three children, drowned after a boat carrying migrants to Greece sank off the Turkish resort of Kusadasi.

The vast majority of the arrivals from outside Europe have used the so-called Balkan corridor – a route that takes migrants from Greece, through Macedonia, Serbia, and then either Croatia and Slovenia or Hungary to Austria and Germany.

The IOM says the migrants are still arriving, with 30,411 passing through Greece in the week between 9 and 16 December.

Luxembourg’s foreign minister said the European Union has until now failed to respond to crisis caused by the hundreds of thousands of arrivals in Europe.

Jean Asselborn said the EU now needed to ‘very, very quickly’ to employ a stronger Frontex, Europe’s border guard agency, so that it’s better able to control the its external borders.

In a sign of the growing fallout from the migration crisis, Greece recalled its ambassador to the Czech Republic after a number of disparaging comments out of Prague, including several about Greece’s handling of the flow of people from Turkey.

The IOM said it was concerned about the nature of some of the comments about refugees being made by some European countries, adding that it puts them at risk.

Save The Children said it was concerned about the conditions many of the migrants are experiencing as they continue heading into Europe.

Save the Children Campaigns Director, Kirsty McNeill, said: ‘Some reception facilities, especially at borders, aren’t adequately providing for basic needs like food, water or healthcare.

‘The situation is expected to worsen with the onset of winter – especially for children. We urge European states to focus on immediate humanitarian needs on the ground, especially for children.’

The Syrian refugee crisis has been exacerbated by the increasing role of Islamic State in the civil war. Millions of Syrians have fled since 2011, with many of them living in camps in Turkey, Jordan, Iraqi Kurdistan and Lebanon.

Others arriving in Europe, who some categorise as economic migrants, have been coming in large numbers from countries like Pakistan, Eritrea, Bangladesh and Nigeria.


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