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Migrants rescued as influx tops million

December 22, 2015 5:07 pm

Italian officials have reported the rescue of 555 migrants from the Mediterranean while 11 others died trying to reach Greece from Turkey.

The news came as the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said the number of migrants and refugees crossing illegally into Europe by sea and land had passed one million.

The figure for 2015 represents a fourfold rise on the total last year.

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Before the latest deaths, the number of dead or missing was put at 3,695.

Most of the migrants crossed by sea, with more than 800,000 travelling from Turkey to Greece. Half are migrants from Syria.

The influx of migrants has caused significant political rifts within the EU, with some states inside the border-free Schengen area putting up fences and re-imposing frontier controls.

Hungary and Slovakia are taking legal action at the European Court of Justice to challenge EU plans to share asylum seekers across EU states.

Most migrants and refugees want to settle in richer northern countries like Germany and Sweden.

Germany alone has received a million refugees and migrants this year, although many were already within Europe, particularly in the Balkans.

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