UNHCR: Over 300,000 Refugees Crossed Mediterranean Sea This Year

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According to the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR), more than 300,000 refugees have crossed the Mediterranean Sea since the beginning of this year, 3,211 of them have died or gone missing in the sea.

UNHCR: Over 300,000 Refugees Crossed Mediterranean Sea This Year

Photo: Agenzia Massimo Sestini

More than 300,000 refugees have crossed the Mediterranean Sea since the beginning of this year, hoping to reach European countries, the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) reported on Tuesday.

“The number of refugees and migrants, reaching European shores this year, has passed the 300,000 mark today,” spokesman for the UNHCR, William Spindler said. He also added that the figure is less than last year, when 520,000 refugees arrived in European states during the first nine months of 2015.

As Spindler noted, 2016 has become “the deadliest year on record in the Mediterranean Sea.” Reportedly, 3,211 refugees have died or gone missing in the sea since the beginning of this year. He also added that the figure is just 15% lower than the total number of deaths in the Mediterranean Sea over the whole of the past year, when the death toll was 3,771 people. This means that fatality rate had risen.

According to the agency, the number of refugees, coming from Turkey to Greece, has changed and showed a sharp decrease. After the EU and Turkey made a deal to curb the flow of refugees, Greece has recorded a 57-percent drop in arrivals of migrants since March of this year.

At the same time, the number of refugees, committing a dangerous journey from Libya to Italy, has remained almost the same, compared to the last year. According to Spindler, some 130,411 refugees have arrived in Italy since the beginning of this year. Almost the same figure, 132,000 refugees, was recorded in the past year.

As the UNHCR reported, a half of those, who have crossed the Mediterranean Sea and arrived to Greece despite all restrictions, imposed this year, is represented by Syrians, suffering of the conflict in their country.

A massive refugee crisis, which is described as the most unprecedented in decades, has swept the EU nearly two years ago. More than a million refugees arrived on the continent in the last year. The most part of them are people from North Africa and the Middle East, fleeing war and poverty. Many blame Western policies toward the region for the refugee influx.

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