Mediterranean migrant crossings to Europe reach 100,000
More than 100,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year as hundreds of people reached Greek islands in the Aegean on Tuesday.
Of the 103,000 refugees and migrants who have reached Europe on overcrowded fishing boats and inflatable dinghies, 54,000 landed in Italy while 48,000 made it to Greece - many of them Syrian and Afghan refugees who crossed from the Turkish coast, the UN said.
Another 920 have arrived in Spain and 91 in Malta.
Tens of thousands more refugees and asylum seekers are expected to head for Greece and Italy this summer.
In the latest batch of arrivals, the Greek coast guard said nearly 450 people had been rescued from the sea off the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Kalymnos and Kos in just 24 hours, while a further 300 arrived safely by boat at Lesbos’ main port of Mytilene.
Several of Greece’s Aegean islands lie just a few miles from the Turkey coast, making it a much easier and safer journey for migrants than the route from Libya to Italy, where nearly 1,800 have died this year, including an estimated 800 in a single incident in April.
The number of migrants reaching Greece is up six-fold compared to the same period last year, according to the UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, with an average of 600 arriving each day.