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Migrant crossings soar 80%

Published 01/07/2015

A Belgian navy sailor throws life vests to migrants in a rubber boat in the Mediterranean, off the Libyan coast (AP)
A Belgian navy sailor throws life vests to migrants in a rubber boat in the Mediterranean, off the Libyan coast (AP)

The number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea to southern Europe was more than 80% higher in the first half of 2015 than a year earlier and deaths also soared, the UN refugee agency said.

Data from Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain showed 137,000 migrants arriving between January and June - up from 75,000 in the first half of last year, an 83% increase.

One third were from Syria, while Eritreans accounted for 12% of the new arrivals and Afghans 11%.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said the number of people who died making the crossing totalled 1,867, up from 588 a year earlier. However, it said there was a dramatic drop after an unprecedented 1,308 people died in April.

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