Refugee arrivals in Mediterranean surpass 300,000
The United Nations on Tuesday warned this year was expected to be the deadliest on record for refugees in the Mediterranean Sea as the number of refugees reaching Europe has surpassed 300,000.

"As 300,000 people cross the Mediterranean Sea this year, UNHCR calls for admission pathways for refugees and speedy relocation out of Italy and Greece," UNHCR spokesman William Spindler said in a press conference on Tuesday.

"This is considerably lower than the 520,000 registered sea arrivals during the first nine months of 2015, but higher than the 216,054 arrivals during the whole of 2014," Spindler said.

Sharp drop of arrivals to Greece

Arrivals in Italy this year follow the same pattern as last year, with 130,411 refugees and migrants entering in 2016, compared to 132,071 during the first nine months of last year, according to Spindler.

"This year, there has been a sharp drop from 67,415 arrivals during the month of January to just over 2,000 so far this month, bringing the total this year to 165,750, a 57 percent drop from the 385,069 arrivals registered in Greece during the first nine months of last year," he said.

The countries of origin for the refugees arriving in Greece are Syria with 48 percent, Afghanistan with 25 percent and Iraq with 15 percent while the main nationalities arriving in Italy are Nigerian with 20 percent and Eritrean with 12 percent.

"In the Mediterranean as a whole, five nationalities account for 68 percent of all arrivals (Syria 30 percent, Afghanistan 16 percent, Iraq 10 percent, Nigeria 7 percent, Eritrea 5 percent)," UNHCR said.

"2016 deadliest year on record"

Despite 300,000 refugees having crossed the Mediterranean this year, which is 42 percent lower than 530,000 arrivals during the same period last year, the number of people reported dead or missing so far this year is 3,211, which is only 15 percent lower than the 3,771 figure of the total number of casualties for the whole of 2015, UNHCR stated.

"At this rate, 2016 will be the deadliest year on record in the Mediterranean Sea," UNHCR warned.

"The plan agreed by the European Union (EU) and member states a year ago to relocate 160,000 asylum-seekers mainly from Greece and Italy to other European countries needs to be fully implemented," UNHCR said.

Last Modified: 2016-09-21 08:24:41
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