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IOM: 76,000 migrants arrive in Europe, 409 dead or missing so far in 2016

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |   Feb. 9, 2016 at 11:12 AM
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ATHENS, Greece, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- The International Organization for Migration reported more than 76,000 migrants arrived in Europe by sea and at least 409 migrants died or went missing in the first six weeks of 2016.

The average of nearly 2,000 migrants arriving in Europe every day is almost 10 times the average seen in the same period last year -- Jan. 1 until Feb. 7. Of the deceased or missing migrants, 319 were traveling through the Eastern Mediterranean route connecting Turkey to Greece and 90 on the Central Mediterranean route between North Africa and Italy.

"During the same period in 2015, only 69 migrants and refugees died or went missing in the whole Mediterranean," IOM said in the report released Tuesday. "All but nine were believed to have perished on the Central Mediterranean route" and those nine died in the same incident Sunday.

So far this year, 70,365 migrants arrived in Greece and 5,898 arrived in Italy -- totaling 76,263. In the same period last year, 3,952 migrants arrived in Greece and 7,882 arrived in Italy. During the first two months of 2015, 428 migrants died or went missing.

The migrant crisis could be further escalated as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies surround the besieged city of Aleppo, which was once the most populated city in Syria. The United Nations warns that 300,000 people in the city could be cut off from necessary aid.

The regime's latest tactic has caused thousands to flee their homes toward neighboring Turkey, which has been urged by the UN to open its borders to allow refugees. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates up to 150,000 could flee Aleppo into the nearby Syrian town of Afrin, into the Syrian countryside or toward Turkey.

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