More than one million refugees and migrants arrived in the European Union in 2015, while almost 3,700 died or went missing in perilous journeys which reaped huge profit for smugglers, according to the International Organisation for Migration. "This is three to four times as many migrants and refugees coming north as we had in 2014, and the deaths have far surpassed the deaths last year," IOM chief William Lacy Swing told Reuters.
a total of 1,005,504 arrivals to Greece, Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, Malta and Cyprus by 21 December 2015, the vast majority – 816,752 – arrived by sea in Greece, IOM said. Almost all those arriving came across the Mediterranean or the Aegean Seas, and half were Syrians fleeing the civil war. Another 20% were Afghans, and 7% were Iraqis, according to a joint statement from IOM and the UN refugee agency UNHCR.
record movement of people into Europe is a symptom of a record level of disruption around the globe, with numbers of refugees and internally displaced people far surpassing 60 million, UNHCR said. Swing said the war in Syria was only one among many causes, including Ebola and Boko Haram in West Africa, an earthquake in Nepal, conflicts in Libya, Yemen, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Afghanistan and Iraq.
In this gallery,
IBTimes UK looks back at the perils faced by refugees and migrants along their epic journeys towards the European Union. 19 April 2015: A child is carried off a boat by a rescue worker in the Sicilian harbour of Pozzallo Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters 20 April 2015: The body of a person who died after a fishing boat carrying migrants capsized off the Libyan coast, is brought ashore by the Italian Coast Guard vessel Bruno Gregoretti at Boiler Wharf, Senglea in Malta. More than 700 people were feared dead following the capsizing of a boat that had been crammed with migrants trying to reach Europe Matthew Mirabelli/AFP 13 May 2015: An Afghan woman, followed by her child, walks through a field close to the Greek-Macedonian border in an attempt to cross into Macedonia Yannis Behrakis/Reuters 27 July 2015: Young men look out of the open door of a train carriage heading north from Gevgelija in Macedonia to Tabanovce, on the border with Serbia Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP 9 August 2015: Syrian refugees take selfies moments after arriving on an overcrowded dinghy on a beach on the Greek island of Kos, after crossing a part of the Aegean sea from Turkey Yannis Behrakis/Reuters 11 August 2015: A dinghy overcrowded with Syrian refugees drifts in the Aegean sea between Turkey and Greece after its motor broke down off the Greek island of Kos Yannis Behrakis/Reuters 11 August 2015: Syrian refugees pack the stands inside the national stadium on the Greek island of Kos as local authorities struggle to cope with the increasing numbers of migrants and refugees arriving in dinghies from the nearby Turkish coast Yannis Behrakis/Reuters 12 August 2015: Refugees check their mobile phones after getting out of an inflatable boat on a beach on the Greek island of Kos Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP 13 August 2015: A young Syrian child looks at the camera as refugees arrive at a beach on the Greek island of Kos after crossing a part of the Aegean sea from Turkey on a dinghy Milos Bicanski/Getty Images 14 August 2015: Two Syrian refugees watch the passenger ship Eleftherios Venizelos back into the quay on the Greek island of Kos Milos Bicanski/Getty Images 15 August 2015: A dinghy with Syrian refugees arrives at a beach on the Greek island of Kos Milos Bicanski/Getty Images 19 August 2015: A man bathes in the sea as the passenger ship Eleftherios Venizelos leaves the port on the Greek island of Kos, carrying refugees to the mainland Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters 20 August 2015: Police in Piraeus, near Athens, watch the arrival of Eleftherios Venizelos passenger ship, carrying refugees from several Greek Islands Milos Bicanski/Getty Images 27 August 2015: Syrian refugees cross under a fence into Hungary at the border with Serbia, near Roszke Bernadett Szabo/Reuters 28 August 2015: Hungarian police detain a Syrian migrant family after they entered Hungary at the border with Serbia Bernadett Szabo/Reuters 31 August 2015: Migrants from Pakistan land on shore on the Greek island of Kos after completing a journey in a small dinghy crossing a three-mile stretch of the Aegean Sea from Turkey Dan Kitwood/Getty Images 1 September 2015: A boy wears a German police officer's cap while migrants and refugees wait for a bus after their arrival at the main train station in Munich, southern Germany Christof Stache/AFP 1 September 2015: Syrian refugees and migrants walk along a railway line as they try to cross from Serbia into Hungary, near Horgos Aris Messinis/AFP 2 September 2015: A Turkish police officer carries the body of a Syrian refugee child named Alan Kurdi who washed up on a beach in Bodrum, Turkey, after a boat sank while reaching the Greek island of Kos Nilufer Demir/AFP 3 September 2015: Hungarian police stop a family of refugees as they tried to run away at the railway station in the town of Bicske Laszlo Balogh/Reuters 7 September 2015: Migrants and refugees cross into Hungary as they walk over railroad tracks at the Serbian border Dan Kitwood/Getty Images 8 September 2015: TV camerawoman Petra Laszlo trips a man carrying a child as they tried to escape from a collection point in Roszke, Hungary. Laszlo was fired after videos of her kicking and tripping up migrants fleeing police spread in the media and on the internet Marko Djurica/Reuters 9 September 2015: Migrants walk along railroad tracks at the Serbian border with Hungary at dusk Dan Kitwood/Getty Images 9 Spetember 2015: Migrants' and refugees' tents are blown away by the wind near a collection point in the village of Roszke, Hungary Marko Djurica/Reuters 10 September 2015: A Syrian refugee kisses his daughter as he walks through a rainstorm towards Greece's border with Macedonia Yannis Behrakis/Reuters 10 September 2015: German Chancellor Angela Merkel poses for a selfie with a Syrian migrant at the AWO Refugium Askanierring shelter in Berlin Sean Gallup/Getty Images 10 September 2015: Migrants and refugees beg Macedonian policemen to allow passage to cross the border from Greece into Macedonia during a rainstorm Yannis Behrakis/Reuters 11 September 2015: A Hungarian policeman pleads with migrants to move away as the bus they are clamouring to get on is full Christopher Furlong/Getty Images 11 September 2015: Hungarian prisoners arrive at the Serbian border to help finish the razor wire border fence Christopher Furlong/Getty Images 12 September 2015: A Syrian refugee holding a baby swims towards the Greek island of Lesbos Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters 13 September 2015: A young boy wraps up to keep warm as he wakes up to a cold morning at the Hungarian border with Serbia Christopher Furlong/Getty Images 17 September 2015: A man holds his crying child close to him as migrants and refugees force their way through police lines at Tovarnik station for a train to take them to Zagreb in Croatia Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images 19 September 2015: Afghan refugees struggle to swim ashore after their dinghy with a broken engine drifted out of control off the Greek island of Lesbos while crossing a part of the Aegean Sea from the Turkish coast Yannis Behrakis/Reuters 20 September 2015: Migrants and refugees desperately try to board a train heading for Zagreb from Tovarnik station in Croatia Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images 21 September 2015: A man and his child peek out of a train window as other migrants and refugees board the train heading to Serbia after crossing the Greek-Macedonian border near Gevgelija Nikolai Doychinov/AFP 16 October 2015: A child stands beside other migrants and refugees inside a tent as they wait to cross the border with Croatia near the village of Berkasovo, Serbia Marko Djurica/Reuters 20 October 2015: Afghan men with sticks fight with other recently arrived migrants and refugees waiting to be processed at the increasingly overwhelmed Moria camp on the island of Lesbos Spencer Platt/Getty Images 20 October 2015: An Afghan family embrace each other upon arriving at a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing a part of the Aegean Sea from the Turkish coast on an overcrowded raft Yannis Behrakis/Reuters 20 October 2015: A young Syrian refugee carries his disabled relative at the port of Piraeus as they walk with other migrants and asylum seekers to find transportation to central Athens or continue towards the Greek-Macedonian border Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP 22 October 2015: An Afghan man walks through rain and fog on his way to the nearest registration camp on the Greek island of Lesbos Yannis Behrakis/Reuters 23 October 2015: Migrants and refugees are escorted through fields by police as they are walked from the village of Rigonce to Brezice refugee camp in Slovenia 30 October 2015: Refugees and migrants call for help as their boat sinks off the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey Aris Messinis/AFP 30 October 2015: A refugee prepares to hand over a toddler to a volunteer lifeguard as a half-sunken catamaran carrying around 150 refugees, most of them Syrians, arrives on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing part of the Aegean sea from Turkey Giorgos Moutafis/Reuters 30 October 2015: Syrian Kurdish refugees are rescued by Greek fishermen as their boat sank off the Greek island of Lesbos Aris Messinis/AFP 1 November 2015: The hand of a dead man is pictured on a beach of the Greek island of Lesbos after boats sank while transporting migrants and refugees trying to cross the Aegean sea from Turkey Aris Messinis/AFP 3 November 2015: Members of a refugee family from Syria cast long shadows as they walk over the grounds of former military barracks serving now as shelter for asylum seekers in Ehra-Lessien near Wolfsburg, Germany DPA/AFP 9 November 2015: Thousands of lifejackets left by migrants and refugees are piled up at a rubbish dump site on the Greek island of Lesbos Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters 23 November 2015: An Iranian migrant with his lips sewn together sits on rail tracks at the border between Greece and Macedonia as Balkan countries begin filtering the flow of migrants to Europe, granting passage to those fleeing conflict in Syria and Afghanistan but turning back others from Africa and Asia Yannis Behrakis/Reuters 26 November 2015: A man is chased by Macedonian police officers after he tried to cross the Greek-Macedonian border. Countries along the Balkan route taken by hundreds of thousands of migrants seeking refuge in western Europe began filtering the flow, granting passage only to those fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan Yannis Behrakis/Reuters 27 November 2015: A woman and a child peer from a bus, after migrants and refugees disembarked from a government chartered ferry, seen in reflection, st the port of Piraeus near Athens Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP 3 December 2015: A stranded migrant holding a baby shouts near a Greek police cordon following scuffles at the Greek-Macedonian border Alexandros Avramidis/Reuters 24 December 2015: A Syrian migrant dressed as Santa Claus greets children at a shelter for migrants and refugees in Sarstedt, Germany Alexander Koerner/Getty Images