U.N. Says 850,000 Refugees to Cross Sea to Europe in 2015 and 2016

article-2271320-0E8A4C0F00000578-698_964x598By Stephanie Nebehay. At least 850,000 people are expected to cross the Mediterranean seeking refuge in Europe this year and next, the United Nations said on Tuesday, giving estimates that already look conservative.

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR called for more cohesive asylum policies to deal with the growing numbers.

Many are refugees from Syria, driven to make the voyage by intensified fighting there and worsening conditions for refugees in surrounding countries due to funding shortfalls in aid programs, UNHCR said.

“In 2015, UNHCR anticipates that approximately 400,000 new arrivals will seek international protection in Europe via the Mediterranean. In 2016 this number could reach 450,000 or more,” it said in an appeal document.

Spokesman William Spindler said the prediction for this year was close to being fulfilled, with 366,000 having already made the voyage. The total will depend on whether migrants stop attempting the journey as the weather gets colder and the seas more perilous. (Read more from “U.N. Says 850,000 Refugees to Cross Sea to Europe in 2015 and 2016” HERE)

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A New Wave of Migrants Flees Iraq, Yearning for Europe

By Tim Arango. Having sold his car for $4,600, and then some of his wife’s jewelry, and having loaded his smartphone with photographs of his five children, all that was left for Haider Abdella to do was say goodbye.

“From yesterday to today, we are crying,” he said.

His mother sat next to him on the couch, sobbing. “He’s never left me before, from when he was a child until now,” she said. “How can I bear him leaving?”

Mr. Abdella, 42, a police officer, had never left Iraq — never even seen the sea. But last week, he was on a plane to Istanbul, and from there traveled to the coastal resort city of Izmir, Turkey. A day later, he was on a smuggler’s boat to Greece, crying and praying over the phone with his family left behind in Baghdad. By the weekend, he told them, he was well on his way to Germany.

Emboldened by the recent wave of news coverage showing their countrymen and fellow Arabs fleeing the war in Syria and reaching Europe, many Iraqis see a new opportunity to get out. (Read more from this story HERE)

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