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Frontex: 540,000 refugees and migrants have arrived on Greek islands since January

More than 540 000 refugees and migrants have arrived on the Greek islands in the first ten months of the year, which was 13 times more than in the same period of 2014, the latest Frontex report reveals.

Some 540,000 people have reached Greece though the Aegean during the first 10 months of 2015, reveals the latest report published by the European Union's Patrol Agency, Frontex on Tuesday. 

According to the report, this is 13 times more than in the same period in 2014 with Syrians being the majority of the newcomers,  although the number of Afghan nationals has risen significantly. 

On the other hand, Italy only received 8500 people crossing from Libya to Italy, a significant reduction compared to 15,000 the country has received in the same period last year. Experts attribute the decline to the fact that most Syrians travel now through Turkey and Greece to Europe but also to a shortage of boats available to smugglers in Libya, bringing the figure for the first ten months down to 140 000 versus nearly 155 000 in the same period of 2014.

Frontex estimates that 150,000 people entered Greece in October compared to 8500 that have made the journey during the same month in 2014. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) released a report earlier in November putting the number of people that have tried to reach Europe in October through the Aegean sea at  210,000. 

In the January -October period more than 500,000 people have tried to cross EU's external borders in the Western Balkans, mainly on Hungary's and Croatia's borders with Serbia.
Croatia and Serbia have seen record numbers of people crossing their borders since September, when Hungary constructed a  fence on its borders with Serbia. 

“As part of its effort to assist Greece and Western Balkan states in dealing with the unprecedented migratory pressure, Frontex has strengthened Operation Poseidon Sea and deployed 114 officers on Lesbos and other Greek islands to support the local authorities in identifying, registering and fingerprinting of new arrivals. This includes 37 officers deployed at the Lesbos hotspot, where Frontex is completing a pilot project of an accelerated registration process to shorten the waiting time for the migrants and pave the way for relocation of asylum seekers” the report notes.

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