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150K Migrants Have Crossed Mediterranean into Europe this Year

The number of migrants and refugees who have made the dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean into Europe has already hit an estimated 150,000 this year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) revealed today, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports.

IOM noted that 1,914 people have perished already trying to cross the Mediterranean this year — more than twice the number who died in 2014.

“IOM’s announcement came just a month after the 100,000-mark was passed, and the United Nations warned the surge in arrivals was creating humanitarian crises that required a ‘collective and far-reaching’ European response,” notes AFP.

The majority (about 75,000) of migrants who have made the perilous journey have landed in Italy and Greece (about 77,000), the latter of which has seen the numbers skyrocket.

Today, the UN refugee agency formally known as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) warned that Greece was facing a “growing humanitarian crisis.”

Last year, 34,442 migrants reached the shores of Greece, less than half the number of those who have made it there this year, noted UNHCR.

“On average, 1,000 arrive every day on the Greek islands,” William Spindler, a UNHCR spokesman told reporters in Geneva, adding that most of them were coming from war-torn Syria, AFP reports.

“The numbers of people arriving are now so high that despite all efforts, the authorities and local communities can no longer cope,” he warned, stressing that an “urgent response from Europe is needed before the situation deteriorates further.”

“Greece urgently needs help and we expect Europe to step forward,” added the spokesman.

Most of the migrants who reach Greece reportedly move on, trying to reach countries in western and northern Europe by going through the western Balkans region.

Spindler indicated that in June alone an average of 1,000 people crossed from Greece into Macedonia and Serbia.

“Between Thursday night and Friday, the Italian coastguard said it had rescued 823 migrants in eight different operations, and had pulled 12 bodies from the water,” adds Al Jazeera.

Last month, EU leaders agreed to redistribute 40,000 asylum-seekers from Syria and Eritrea already in Europe on a voluntary basis in an effort to ease the load for Greece and Italy.

Many EU members strongly opposed mandatory quotas.

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