(Newsroom America) -- Close to 300,000 migrants and refugees have reached Europe between the start of this year and mid-September, with most of them entering through Greece and Italy, according to an update from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Of the total of 294,450 migrants and refugees, 126,931 arrived via Italy and 165,015 via Greece – the former experienced a slight uptick compared to the time period of January to the end of September in 2015, and the latter experienced a fall of almost 50 per cent compared to same time period, from 381,996 to 165,015.
“While arrivals to Italy in 2016 largely have tracked 2015’s monthly arrival patterns, those to Greece have diverged sharply – with many fewer migrants and refugees coming from Turkey this year compared with last year,” IOM said in the update.
It added that while total arrival numbers are down, fatalities among Mediterranean migrants and refugees now stand, through this past weekend, at 3,207 – exceeding by 456 the total recorded during the same period last year.
The migration agency noted that, according to its Missing Migrants Project – which tracks deaths of migrants and those who have gone missing along migratory routes worldwide – Mediterranean fatalities for last year stood at 2,751 through 12 September 2015.
In recent years, Greece and Italy have become the main port of entry for many refugees and migrants trying to reach Europe by sea.
As for Europe’s southern Mediterranean region as a whole, from January to the end of August, IOM noted that a total of 354,618 arrivals were recorded crossing the Mediterranean, or some 60,000 more than 2016’s total so far.
In July this year, the General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution approving an agreement to make IOM part of the UN system as a related organization. IOM, which assisted an estimated 20 million migrants in 2015, is an intergovernmental organization with more than 9,500 staff and 450 offices worldwide. Founded in the wake of the World War II to resettle refugees from Europe, the organization celebrates its 65th anniversary in December of this year.