Refugee number in Mediterranean exceeds 350,000 for 2015

Number of refugees crossing Mediterranean exceeds 350,000 this year as refugees continue to risk their lives fleeing crises

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Refugees boarding from Lesbos island, Greece to reach Piraeus port

The Mediterranean has been crossed by more than 350,000 refugees this year, in an attempt to enter Europe, as they flee conditions of war and poverty.

The International Organization for Migration, says that some 2,600 refugees have died while trying to cross the sea by using unseaworthy boats. AFP reports that 234,778 people has made it to Greece, 114,276 made it to Italy, 2,166 debarked in Spain and 94 arrived in Malta.

The enormous number of refugees that have already crossed the Mediterranean Sea, far exceeds last year's number, which was 219,000  for the entire 2014.

In the meantime, hundreds of refugees arrived in Austria's capital Vienna and the German city of Munich late on Monday, Al Jazeera reported.

The majority of the refugees follow the route through Turkey or Greece, to reach the Balkans and from there they cross over to the EU countries.

The situation on the trains seems easy going, as Austrian authorities were not applying EU rules and refugees were not facing extreme hardships in order to claim asylum in Hungary. The refugees said, the same was applied for those who arrived in Vienna.

However, UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) suggested that the European states find a common solution to the refugee issue, so the countries can distribute the daily wave of people that arrive in the EU countries evenly.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised Turkey on Monday, for providing shelter to millions of refugees.

"Turkey has done a lot so far to address the Syrian refugee problem and continues to do so… but recent developments and refugees coming to Greece show that Turkey has also come to its limits of what it can achieve alone," she said at a Berlin news conference.

“If Europe fails on the question of refugees, if this close link with universal civil rights is broken, then it won’t be the Europe we wished for,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin.

"If we don't succeed in fairly distributing refugees then of course the Schengen question will be on the agenda for many," she added.

"We stand before a huge national challenge. That will be a central challenge not only for days or months but for a long period of time."

Before Austrian authorities allowed people to embark on the trains, the refugees protested outside Budapest's Eastern Railway station as the authorities did not permit them to get onboard and continue their journey to Germany, said a Reuters reporter reporting from the location.

It is reported that some 1,000 refugees protested waving their tickets and shouting "Germany, Germany."

According to Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs, the station was closed in the attempt to enforce EU law, where a valid passport and a Schengen visa are required.

Several refugees spoke about their right to cross to Germany, as they were holding valid tickets that cost over 100 euro.

"They took 125 euros for each ticket to Munich or Berlin, then they stopped and forced us from station," said Hassan, a 47-year-old Syrian refugee. "[They] said station is closed. They said no trains, this station is closed."


TRTWorld and agencies