Mediterranean crossings reach record 218,400 in October — UNHCR

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Geneva -The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Monday that the number of migrants that crossed the Mediterranean jumped to a record 218,400 people in October, citing Germany’s welcoming immigration policy as one of the reasons for the increase.

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The previous record since the start of the Syria crisis in 2011 was set in September, with 172,800 sea journeys from Northern Africa and Turkey to Southern Europe.

“The fact that Germany has had a very generous asylum policy has been part of the factors,’’ UNHCR spokesman William Spindler told newsmen.

Refugees have been telling UNHCR staff that they were afraid that Germany’s policies might become more restrictive soon and that they were, therefore, rushing to Europe.

“Many were also making the dangerous sea journey now because they fear worsening weather during the winter months,’’ Spindler said.

Another major factor was the growing sense of despair among Syrian refugees living in Middle East host countries such as Lebanon and Jordan, where refugees face rising cost of living, food insecurity, unemployment, bureaucracy and lack of education opportunities.

“People are losing hope,’’ Spindler said.
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So far, more than 744,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe this year, the vast majority of them landing in Greece.

More than half of the arrivals have been from Syria, while Afghans and Eritreans make up the second and third largest groups. (dpa/NAN)

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