More than 1 million refugees and migrants arrived in the EU this year. Around 3,700 died or went missing in perilous journeys while human smugglers reaped a bonanza, according to the International Organization for Migration yesterday.
"This is three to four times as many migrants and refugees coming north as we had in 2014, and the deaths have already far surpassed the deaths last year," IOM chief William Lacy Swing told Reuters.
Almost all those refuges came across the Mediterranean or the Aegean Seas, with half of them Syrians fleeing the war. Another 20 per cent were Afghans, while Iraqis made up 7 per cent, IOM and the UN refugee agency UNHCR said in a joint statement.
According to Swing, people-smuggling operations probably accounted for the majority of journeys with earnings of $1 billion, Swing said, taking "anywhere from $2,000 to maybe $6,000 depending on how many members of the family and depending on which smuggling ring it is".
According to IOM estimates people smugglers in Europe had made $10 billion or more since 2000, maybe much more. According to Swing , they were certainly getting very well paid for their services.
Out of a total of 10,05,504 arrivals to Greece, Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, Malta and Cyprus by 21 December, the vast majority - 816,752 - arrived by sea in Greece, according to IOM.
According to IOM spokesman Joel Millman it was impossible to forecast how the flow of migrants would evolve in 2016.
The UNHCR said, the record movement of people into Europe was a symptom of a record level of disruption around the globe, with numbers of refugees and internally displaced people far surpassing 60 million.
The UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres last week, called for "massive resettlement" of Syrian and other refugees within Europe, for distributing many hundreds of thousands of people before the continent's asylum system crumbled.
(Also see: 2015 creates global refugee record: UNHCR)