More than 45,000 migrants and refugees have reached Greece by sea since the beginning of 2016, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) reported on Tuesday.
Specifically, 45,361 refugees and migrants reached Greek islands coming from Turkey in January 2016. This is 31 times more the 1,472 arrivals recorded for the whole of January 2015.
Statistics show that 90 percent of registered maritime arrivals hail from either Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, the three countries whose fleeing nationals are entitled to asylum. Refugees from the above countries are allowed to freely cross the Greece-Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia border in order to reach Northern and Western Europe.
The high number of arrivals also translates into high numbers of casualties during the hazardous sea crossings, IOM reports.
As of January 25, 177 people have lost their lives while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea, mostly on the Aegean Sea route separating Turkey and Greece where 158 have died so far this year.
A further 19 people have perished on the Central Mediterranean passage linking North Africa and Italy.
Most of this year’s EU sea arrivals (47,214) have been registered in Greece (45,361), followed by Italy where 1,853 migrants and refugees have arrived and registered.