Half a Million Refugees Reach Europe This Year

Half a Million Refugees  Reach Europe This YearHalf a Million Refugees  Reach Europe This Year

A record number of refugees have crossed the Mediterranean into Europe this year, breaching the half million mark for the past nine months, according to the International Organization for Migration.

As of Tuesday, the group said 522,124 people had traveled by sea to reach the continent, Al Jazeera reports.

About 388,000 have entered via Greece and more than 175,000 of the total came from Syria.

IOM estimated that 2,892 people have died attempting the crossing. The majority of those deaths were among people seeking to reach Italy via North Africa.

Despite the risks, thousands of refugees still continue to make the dangerous journey.

On Tuesday, the Libyan coastguard said it rescued 346 refugees, including almost 100 women and children, who were crammed onto rubber boats and stranded off the country’s coast.

Libya has for years been a stepping-stone for refugees, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa but also Syria and other Middle Eastern countries, seeking to travel to Europe.

In an upsurge of attempted crossings this week, the Italian coast guard said it had coordinated the rescue on Monday of 1,151 refugees in 11 operations off the Libyan coast.

Separately, the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) said its ship Dignity 1 had saved 373 people, including 62 women and 10 children.

The influx has strained the 28-nation European Union and prompted a rash of border closures. This year’s influx has long since passed the previous record of some 219,000 people last year.