Migration Agency: Number of Migrants Reaching Europe by Sea Soars Tenfold

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) -
A boat (L) which carried migrants sinks into the sea off Turkey's western coast of Ayvacik, are seen in this still image from video taken January 30, 2016. Almost 40 people drowned and 75 were rescued after a boat carrying migrants to Greece sank off Turkey's western coast on Saturday, according to local officials and the Turkish Dogan news agency. The Turkish coast guard was continuing search and rescue efforts where the 17-metre boat carrying at least 120 people sank off the coast of Ayvacik, a town across from the Greek island of Lesvos, the Dogan news agency reported. REUTERS/Reuters TV
A boat (L) which carried migrants sinks into the sea off Turkey’s western coast of Ayvacik, is seen in this still image from video footage taken January 30 (Reuters)

Ten times as many migrants and refugees arrived in Europe by sea during the first six weeks of the year as arrived in the same period of 2015, and the number of deaths also soared, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Tuesday.

The number of arrivals topped 76,000, and the number of deaths shot up to 409 on Mediterranean routes, up from 69 in the first six weeks of 2015, it said. Of those fatalities, 319 died while crossing the eastern Mediterranean from Turkey to Greece and 90 on the central route between North Africa and Italy.

IOM spokesman Joel Millman said the organization did not expect the number of migrant and refugee arrivals in Europe to fall in the foreseeable future. “There are more concurrent crises around than we’ve ever seen at one time,” he said. “Conditions on the ground in the countries that are feeding the migrant crisis are largely unchanged, so we think the numbers will probably stay the same.”

The IOM also predicted that next month Greece would receive its one millionth arrival since the migrant crisis began.

More than 1.1 million people fleeing poverty, war and repression in the Middle East, Asia and Africa reached Europe’s shores last year, most of them headed for Germany.

According to the U.N. Refugee Agency approximately half the arrivals are refugees from the Syrian war.