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Why is EU struggling with migrants and asylum?

By Laurence Peter, BBC News

Some 2,500 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean this year as overcrowded boats head for the coasts of Greece and Italy.

The flow of desperate migrants from Syria and North Africa hoping to reach Europe is already much higher than in the same period in 2014.

Germany, which receives by far the most asylum applications in the EU, is expecting 800,000 refugees to arrive this year.

How big is the migration challenge affecting Europe now?

The number of migrants reaching Europe by boat has risen dramatically this year, compared with the same period in 2014. The number arriving in Greece, in particular, has soared.

The EU's border agency said that almost 50,000 migrants had arrived on the Greek islands in July alone, most of them Syrians. The number of migrants reaching Greece by sea had reached 158,000 by mid-August, according to the UN, overtaking the 90,000 who arrived in Italy by sea.

The majority heading for Greece via the eastern Mediterranean route take the relatively short voyage from the Turkish mainland to the islands of Kos, Chios, Lesvos and Samos. The voyage from Libya to Italy is longer and more hazardous.

Migrant deaths at sea this year passed 2,000 in August, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported. And of those, 1,930 died trying to reach Italy. A shipwreck off Italy's Lampedusa island on 19 April took an estimated 800 lives. So, more migrants - Syrians especially - are trying to reach Greece now, instead of risking the Libya route.

Since the beginning of the year some 340,000 migrants have been detected at Europe's external borders, Frontex says.

That compares with 123,500 in the same period last year.

(Retrieved and adapted from http://www.newstoday.com.bd/?option=details&news_id=2420633&date= 2015-08-30. Access on October, 1st, 2015)


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