IOM: Rate of migration to Greece far outpaces 2015
A Syrian woman reacts as refugees and migrants aboard an inflatable dinghy are about to be rescued by MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) while attempting to reach the Greek island of Agathonisi overnight on January 16, 2016. (AFP/Angelos Tzortzinis)
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The number of migrants arriving on Greek shores has already outpaced the migration rate for Jan. 2015 by 21 times, the International Organization for Migration told Reuters Tuesday.
Just 19 days into the year, the IOM says 31,244 migrants and refugees had arrived to Greece by sea, compared with 1,472 arrivals recorded last year.
"If the trend as it is now continues then certainly we're looking at another record number," said spokesman Itayi Viriri.
Over one million migrants made the treacherous sea crossing to Europe last year, nearly half of them refugees fleeing a five-year-long civil war in Syria.
Although the number of arrivals of refugees to Greece was initially small, by the end of the year the country saw 850,000 arrivals.
Most, however, are not staying in Greece. IOM cited numbers from Greek police indicating that some 31,000 migrants had crossed into Macedonia since the beginning of January.
The unabated influx of refugees is likely to increase EU dissatisfaction with Turkey - the main hub for refugees crossing into the EU - whom they accuse of not doing enough to support refugees at home to limit the numbers crossing the Aegean Sea.