Almost 220,000 migrants cross Mediterranean in October

Greece and Italy identified as the main gateways into the European Union

A man carries a child as they disembark a rubber boat on the northern shore of Lesbos, Greece. Photograph: Marko Drobnjakovic/AP

A man carries a child as they disembark a rubber boat on the northern shore of Lesbos, Greece. Photograph: Marko Drobnjakovic/AP

 

A record 218,394 migrants fled across the Mediterranean Sea in October, more than in all of last year, the United Nations refugee agency has said.

The figure was up from 172,843 the previous month, and from 23,050 in October 2014, according to Federico Fossi, a spokesman for the UNHCR in Rome.

The number of sea arrivals for October compares with 216,054 for the whole of 2014.

To date this year, there have been 744,175 arrivals by sea, with Greece and Italy as the main gateways into the European Union.

Of those, the majority - 53 percent - came from war- torn Syria, followed by 18 per cent from Afghanistan and 6 per cent from Iraq.

Another 3,440 people died or went missing during the crossings, many of which are made on unseaworthy vessels, according to the UNHCR.