A total of 55,528 refugees and migrants made the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean Sea in search of a better life in Europe during the first month of the year according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). The figure is more than 35 times as many as attempted the crossing in the same period during 2015, and is a rate of nearly 2,000 a day.
The daily migration average was almost equivalent to the total numbers for the month of January as recently as two years ago. During the same period, IOM has recorded some 244 deaths at sea, as well as at least 12 more deaths of migrants and refugees who died either after reaching Europe. In comparison, total deaths on Mediterranean Sea routes were 12 in 2014 and 82 last year.
The total figure of refugees and migrants making the crossing across the Mediterranean is perilously close to the figure during last July when warm weather and calm seas allowed 54,899 to make the journey, showing that the desire to escape the war-torn countries of Syria and Iraq to create a new life in Europe has not abated. Earlier this week the IOM unveiled that a survey of migrants and refugees arriving in Greece revealed that 90% were from Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan, which would allow them to leave Greece and enter the Macedonia en route to Western Europe as asylum seekers.
Of the arrivals, 52,055 landed on Greek shores and 218 died trying to make the journey across the eastern Mediterranean route while 3,473 chose to cross from Italy through the central Mediterranean channel with 26 refugees and migrants perishing as part of their journey.