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.

Out of 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.

The 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.