Mediterranean Migrant Boat Crossings Exceed 300,000 in 2015

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UNHCR Chief Communications and Spokesperson Melissa Fleming delivered the data, accounting for 200,000 refugees landings in Greece and 110,000 in Italy.

A Belgian navy sailor passes life vests to migrants sitting in a rubber boat as they approach the Belgian Navy Vessel Godetia during a search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean Eea off the Libyan coasts, Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - Sputnik International
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Over 310,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe this year, while at least 2,500 have died, the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR reported on Friday.

UNHCR Chief Communications and Spokesperson Melissa Fleming delivered the data, accounting for 200,000 landings in Greece and 110,000 in Italy, at a press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland.

"This represents a large increase from last year, when around 219,000 people cross the Mediterranean during the whole of 2014," Fleming is quoted on the UNHCR website as saying.

Migrants wait to disembark from an Italian navy vessel in the Sicilian harbour of Augusta, Italy, August 23, 2015 - Sputnik International
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The 2,500 deaths in the first eight months of 2015 compare to a total of 3,500 people who died or were reported missing in the entirety of 2014, she added.

The UNHCR spokeswoman appealed to "all governments involved" to respond to the migrant crisis and "act with humanity."

The latest incidents involved the sinking of two boats near a northwest Libyan coastal town on Thursday, carrying a combined total of approximately 450 migrants.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has recorded 2,373 cases of migrants who died while attempting to reach Europe by sea this year. Thousands more have been picked up from dinghies and brought to temporary asylum centers in southern Europe.

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