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Refugee crisis: Number of people reaching Europe in 2015 passes 1 million

The International Organisation for Migration says landmark has been passed for the first time

Adam Withnall
Tuesday 22 December 2015 10:14 GMT
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Refugees disembark from a dinghy after their arrival from Turkey on the Greek island of Lesbos, on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015
Refugees disembark from a dinghy after their arrival from Turkey on the Greek island of Lesbos, on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 (AP)

The number of refugees arriving in Europe has passed 1 million for the first time, the International Organisation for Migration has said.

In a joint statement issued with the UN's refugee agency, the IOM said a further 3,600 died or went missing this year while trying to make the treacherous journey.

Half of all those arriving were Syrians fleeing the country's long civil war, 20 per cent were Afghans and a further seven per cent were of Iraqi origin.

William Lacy Swing, the chief of the IOM, said: "We know migration is inevitable, it's necessary and it's desirable.

"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."

While the IOM said it was impossible to forecast future numbers, the UNHCR said it was planning for arrivals to continue at the same rate in 2016.

"I don't understand why people are insisting that this is a European problem. This is a global issue," Michael Moller, director of the U.N. office in Geneva, said.

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