MOSCOW (Sputnik) – As of September 17, over 131,000 migrants and refugees have arrived on Europe's shores since the beginning of the year, with as many as 2,556 people having died en route to the continent, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a press release Tuesday.
"IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 131,772 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 17 September," the press release said.
IOM statistics indicated a 56-percent decline in the number of sea arrivals compared to the previous year, when the figure amounted to 300,076. Despite this, IOM found that the highest number of migrant deaths for the relevant period (2,556) was recorded in the Mediterranean.
The European countries have been experiencing an acute migration crisis since 2015 due to the influx of thousands of newcomers fleeing violence from their home countries in the Middle East and Africa. Hundreds of thousands of migrants are trying to reach European countries using various routes, including via Italy, Greece, Turkey and the Balkan states.