Almost 23,000 refugees reached Greece in the new year

Almost 23,000 refugees reached Greece in the new year

Over 23,000 asylum seekers have reached Italy and Greece since the beginning of the year, the International Organization on Migrations (IOM) announced.

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A total of 22,895 made it to Greece and 260 to Italy - against a total of 6,000 in January 2014 and January 2015 together, the organization said. That number has quadrupled and more than half of January is still ahead," said IOM spokesman Joel Millman.

At least 58 of them have died trying to reach Europe, the OIM said. One million asylum seekers reached Europe in 2015, most of them from war-torn Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

First vice-president of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, said that the Schengen Area must get back to normal this year. "We must give clear results in the coming weeks on recovering border control and reducing migration flows," he said.

"We must make sure the hotspots (for asylum seeker identification and processing) become fully operational and that new arrivals are registered and fingerprinted," said Timmermans, adding the EU is giving Greece 1.36 million euros to buy 90 fingerprinting machines.

Source: ANSA

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