UN: UN says refugees, migrants fleeing to Europe in 2015 reach 1 million

New York, US (PANA) - UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Tuesday said the
number of refugees and migrants fleeing to Europe in 2015 has topped an unprecedented
one million, with at least 3,600 dead or went missing in the crossings.

UNHCR in a statement in New York also called for much more to be done to receive and
aid those uprooted by persecution, conflict and poverty.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, whose agency compiled the latest figures together with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), stated: "As anti-foreigner sentiments escalate in some quarters, it is important to recognize the positive
contributions that refugees and migrants make to the societies in which they live and also honour core European values: protecting lives, upholding human rights and promoting tolerance and diversity."

He noted that the number of people displaced by war and conflict was the highest seen
in Western and Central Europe since the 1990s, when several conflicts broke out in the
former Yugoslavia.

"One in every two of those crossing the Mediterranean this year – half a million people
were Syrians escaping war. Afghans accounted for 20 per cent and Iraqis for seven
per cent," he said.

According to UNHCR figures, as of 21 December, some 972,500 people had crossed
the Mediterranean Sea, while IOM estimates that over 34,000 have crossed from
Turkey into Bulgaria and Greece by land, for a total of more than 1,006,500.

It also said that over 800,000 refugees and migrants came via the Aegean Sea from
Turkey into Greece, accounting for 80 per cent of those arriving irregularly in
Europe by sea, while the number of those crossing from North Africa into Italy
dropped slightly, from 170,000 in 2014 to around 150,000 in 2015.

Over the year the number of people crossing the Mediterranean increased steadily
from around 5,500 in January to a monthly peak in October of over 221,000.

UNHCR launched an emergency response to complement European efforts, with
over 600 emergency staff and resources deployed to 20 different locations to provide life-saving aid and protection, advocating for human rights and access to asylum,
particularly for refugees with specific needs, such as unaccompanied children and
women-headed households.

"But much more needs to be done to reinforce required reception capacity at
points of entry and allow for the humane and effective accommodation, aid,
registration and screening to identify those in need of protection, those to be
relocated to other countries within the European Union, and those who do not
qualify for refugee protection for whom dignified return mechanisms have to be
put in place.

"At the same time, UNHCR continues to call for safe, regular ways for refugees
to find safety through more resettlement and humanitarian admission programmes,
more flexible visa arrangements, more private sponsorship programmes and other possibilities," it said.
-0-  PANA   AA/AR  22Dec2015

22 december 2015 17:25:18




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