More than one million refugees arrive in the EU this year
The majority of the migrants travel by sea in Greece, agency says
Refugees paddling a rubber dinghy approach the beach at Psalidi near Kos Town, Kos, Greece in August this year. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA
The number of refugees and migrants arriving by land and sea in the European Union has passed 1 million this year, while a further 3,600 died or went missing, the UN refugee agency and the International Organisation for Migration said on Tuesday.
Half of those arriving were Syrians fleeing the war, another 20 per cent were Afghans, and 7 per cent were Iraqis, the two agencies said in a joint statement.
“We know migration is inevitable, it’s necessary and it’s desirable,” IOM chief William Lacy Swing said in the statement.
“But it’s not enough to count the number of those arriving-or the nearly 4,000 this year reported missing or drowned. We must also act. Migration must be legal, safe and secure for all-both for the migrants themselves and the countries that will become their new home.”
The UN refugee agency UNHCR is planning for arrivals to continue at a similar rate in 2016, but IOM spokesman Joel Millman said it was impossible to forecast future numbers.
“So much is in the balance, the resolution of the Syrian war, and the disposition of the European border protection moves that are being contemplated,” he said.
“We never thought it would reach this level. We just hope people are treated with dignity.”
The record movement of people into Europe is a symptom of a record level of disruption around the globe, with numbers of refugees and internally displaced people far surpassing 60 million, UNHCR said last week.
“I don’t understand why people are insisting that this is a European problem. This is a global issue,” Michael Moller, director of the UN office in Geneva, told a news conference on Tuesday.
The UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres called on Friday for a “massive resettlement” of Syrian and other refugees within Europe, to distribute many hundreds of thousands of people before the continent’s asylum system crumbles.
He called for European countries to recognise the positive contributions made by refugees and migrants and to honour what he said were “core European values: protecting lives, upholding human rights and promoting tolerance and diversity.”