Migrant Arrivals in Greece Spike, Take 2015 Total Above Half-Million Mark
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has reported an unprecedentedly high number of migrant arrivals in Greece by sea at the end of last week.
More than 27,000 migrants have crossed into Greece from Friday through Sunday, “exceeding arrivals during peak summer sailing days,” IOM said in a statement on Tuesday.
Most of them, or some 16,500, arrived on the Aegean island of Lesvos, while the island of Chios, which previously witnessed daily arrivals of 300-500 migrants, saw over 4,300 migrants landing on its shores over the weekend.
More than 8,900 migrants arrived in Greece on Friday; on Saturday arrivals exceeded 9,100; and on Sunday nearly 9,200 people arrived.
Sunday’s arrivals had taken above the half-million mark the total number of refugee and migrant arrivals in Greece by sea so far in 2015, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said on Tuesday.
Many of the refugees and migrants are fearing that borders ahead of them will close and are desperate to move quickly onwards to Western Europe, the UNHCR said.
The spike in arrivals was sharply increasing pressure on reception centres on the Greek islands, the refugee agency added.
"It is of utmost importance here, as in other parts of Europe, that reception conditions be adequate to the task. Without this essential element, the relocation programme agreed by Europe in September is in serious peril and may fail," according to UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming.
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