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Three million asylum seekers expected in EU by 2017


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Three million asylum seekers expected in EU by 2017

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The European Commission said on Thursday that it expects some 3 million asylum seekers to arrive in the EU by 2017.

Those heading to Europe now will be met by increasingly wintry weather.

Hence a new appeal for funds by the UN’s refugee agency.

“We need to prepare for up to 5,000 people to continue arriving every day from now until February next year,” said UNHCR spokesman William Spindler.

“We have seen the number of tragedies in the Aegean increasing in recent months because of the deterioration of the weather conditions. So more people are going to die if we don’t act now.”

Over 3,400 migrants and refugees have already died trying to reach Europe this year by sea.

And on Thursday, when at least one migrant child drowned off Greece, European Parliament President Martin Schulz was taken to the island of Lesbos – struggling to cope with the influx.

The call now is for a deal to resettle asylum seekers on mainland Turkey before they fall into the hands of smugglers.

“The only way is to give the hope that someday they will have the chance to be in this mechanism of resettlement directly from the Turkish coast to Europe,” Schulz’s host, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, told reporters.

The migrants’ misery was made worse on Thursday by a strike that kept passenger ferries, including those taking new arrivals to the mainland, moored at port.

Migrants and refugees further ahead on their journey to western Europe continue to stream through the Balkans – many fleeing the horrors of war in Syria, convinced they have no other choice.

For some of those who have made the difficult and dangerous journey by sea from Turkey to Greece, the dream of a new life has already started to come true.

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