It’s Official: Migration Into Europe Hits WWII Levels

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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Europe has officially passed the one million mark for refugees and migrants entering the continent this year — the largest influx of people since World War II.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced the number of refugees stood at 1,005,504 as of Monday. This is more than four times the amount that came in 2014.

“We know migration is inevitable, necessary and desirable,” IOM Director General William Lacy Swing said in a statement.  “But it’s not enough to count the number of those arriving – or the nearly 4,000 this year reported missing or drowned. We must also act. Migration must be legal, safe and secure for all – both for the migrants themselves and the countries that will become their new homes.”

Greece was by far the most popular point of entry with 821,000 migrants, followed by Italy with 150,317. The vast majority of migrants come from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

The situation reached heights that put massive strains on communities that barely had to deal with immigration in the past. The tiny nation of Slovenia, with around 2 million residents, took in 60,000 refugees in 10 days, a population increase of 3 percent.

“If we do not deliver some immediate and concrete actions on the ground in the next few days and weeks, I do believe that the European Union and Europe as a whole will start falling apart,” Slovenian Prime Minister Milo Cerar said of the “absolutely unbearable” situation in October. (RELATED: German Town Of 100 Gets Enriched By 750 Migrants)

The Greek tourist island of Lesbos became the main point of entry in the Mediterranean. Lesbos, with a local population of less than 90,000, temporarily hosted more than 200,000 refugees last month. (RELATED: Britain has No Clue Where 10,000 Of Its Refugees Are)

The most accepting nation is Germany, which reached one million asylum seekers earlier this month. That figure includes more than 100,000 migrants from European non-EU states such as Albania and Kosovo, and are not included in the IOM figures.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy in Germany made her the TIME Person of the Year. The population increase of more than 1 percent also put a huge drain on resources, leading Merkel to listen to the opposition and put restrictions on the influx.

“The chancellor has a great responsibility and must show leadership,” German Social Democratic Party leader Thomas  Oppermann said in October. “That means she has to say clearly that 1 million refugees this year will leave our resources nearly exhausted.”

Slovenia, Hungary and Austria have all erected fences to stop the influx. Hungary along with Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have hardly accepted any refugees, leading to sanctions from EU.

The migrant crisis changed the political landscape around Europe in 2015 with anti-immigration parties gaining ground in almost every country, and the resettlement procedure will continue for years to come.

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