Europe receives one million refugees in 2015

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A family flees an active conflict neighbourhood in eastern Ghouta, Syria, using a cart to carry their belongings. Photo: UNICEF/Amer Al Shami

One million refugees and migrants fled to Europe this year, according to data released by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and its partner, the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The majority, more than 970,000, came by sea while an estimated 34,000 crossed from Turkey into Bulgaria and Greece by land.

Half a million of those arriving by sea were Syrians, while Afghans accounted for 20 per cent and Iraqis seven per cent.

Dianne Penn reports.

The scores of people streaming into Europe in 2015 were running from persecution, conflict and poverty.

They represent the highest number of displaced people seen in Western and Central Europe since the Balkan wars in the 1990s.

Adrian Edwards is spokesperson for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

"Two thousand-and-fifteen is the year that has changed Europe. Europe has always received refugees and migrants but never on this scale, and that's something that ought to worry us all because what lies behind this is a combination of a very dramatic escalation of global conflict levels and countries hosting refugees outside of Europe becoming overwhelmed and insufficiently supported resulted in refugees moving on. And Europe has today become the new destination."

UNHCR said European countries are now beginning to coordinate their response to the refugee influx.

It has been supporting this effort, for example, by deploying 600 emergency staff and resources to 20 different locations.

However, the UN agency underlined that more needs to be done and repeated its call for more resettlement and other programmes which would allow refugees to find safety.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1'15"

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