(MENAFN- Qatar News Agency) Geneva February 23 (QNA) -Migrant and refugee arrivals in Greece and Italy in 2016 this week exceeded 100000. As of 22/2 Greece alone had received some 102547 arrivals since the beginning of the year. In 2015 migrant arrivals topped 100000 in July.
Over 413 migrants and refugees have also lost their lives during the same period with the Eastern Mediterranean route between Turkey and Greece continuing to be the deadliest accounting for 321 migrant deaths.
According to International Organization of Migration (IOM) Greece an estimated 42861 migrants have reached the Greek islands so far in February 2016. The Greek authorities say that they were mainly Syrians Afghans Iraqis Iranians and Pakistanis. Others were from Morocco Bangladesh and Somalia.
Between February 11-17 IOM estimates that some 7286 refugees crossed from Greece into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
IOM staff are present in the islands of Crete Samos Kos and Lesbos working closely with the authorities to identify vulnerable migrants including unaccompanied minors the elderly migrants with medical needs and families with children. Vulnerable groups are referred to the authorities to be given the necessary care.
Meanwhile in Italy following several days with no arrivals mainly due to rough seas a total of 940 migrants were rescued in one day (22/2) in the channel of Sicily. Of these 357 were brought to Pozzallo 342 to Messina and 241 to Lampedusa. Most are from Sub-Saharan Africa and many are fleeing Libya because of deteriorating security in the country where they are often the target of violence.
Since the beginning of the year some 7507 migrants have arrived by sea to Italy. This is roughly the same number as last year.
"We are still registering the arrival of many vulnerable migrants who are often in very bad condition having been subjected to violence by smugglers in Libya. We are also still seeing many women victims of trafficking – an alarming trend already registered in 2015" said IOM Italy spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo.
IOM staff are deployed at the main landing points in Sicily (including Lampedusa) Calabria and Apulia. They provide legal assistance to those arriving by sea monitor reception conditions and support the authorities in the identification of vulnerable groups.(QNA)