Over one million refugees and migrants arrive in Europe by sea in 2015

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A refugee from Syria hugs her crying daughter moments after reaching the Greek Island of Lesvos from Turkey in an inflatable boat. © UNHCR/A. Zavallis

Over one million refugees and migrants have fled to Europe by sea this year, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The majority of those people landed in Greece and Italy, with many of them travelling on dangerously inadequate vessels run by people smugglers.

Veronica Reeves has the story.

Nearly half of the one million people making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe in 2015 were Syrians fleeing the on-going war in their country.

Afghans accounted for another 20 per cent, with Iraqis representing seven per cent.

Perhaps the most striking statistic from UNHCR, however, is the number of people considered "missing": 3,700 people are listed as such, most of whom are believed to have drowned.

In addition to the sea crossings, recent figures show that 34,000 have crossed from Turkey into Bulgaria and Greece by land.

When taken in their totality, the figures correlate to the largest number of people displaced by war and conflict in Western and Central Europe since the Balkan crises of the 1990s.

In a press release on the landmark figure, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres warned that "As anti-foreigner sentiments escalate in some quarters, it is important to recognize the positive contributions that refugees and migrants make to the societies in which they live".

Veronica Reeves, United Nations.

Duration: 1’05″

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