More than 218,000 asylum seekers crossed the Mediterranean to reach Europe in October – a record month that is nearly equivalent to the number of people who crossed in all of last year.
According to the latest data, released by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), 218,394 people took the sea route, all but 8,129 going through Greece.
The present surge can be partly explained as a last-minute rush before the weather gets rough in the winter. There are also rumours being spread within the diasporas of potential asylum seekers, that European states will implement measures to make it harder to enter the bloc’s territory by next year.
However, the numbers also represent a consistent trend. In June, the number of people crossing the East Mediterranean route (Turkey – Greece) overtook for the first time those crossing from the Central Mediterranean (Libya – Italy).
Since then, the numbers grew exponentially in this direction. Moreover, Italy has been experiencing a moderate decline in the number of migrants it receives when compared to the previous year.
Overall, almost 750,000 people crossed the Mediterranean so far this year.
The unprecedented exodus, mostly driven by refugees fleeing conflict zones in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, has also resulted in the death of many migrants attempting the crossing.
According to the same October figures, around 3,440 people died or are missing after having embarked on the perilous sea journey. That is compared to some 3,500 would-be asylum seekers who are believed to have died throughout the whole of 2014.