Europe's migrant crisis in numbers

Europe is facing a dramatic increase in migrants and asylum seekers. Credit: Reuters

Increasing migration into Europe has become a major political and humanitarian issue in recent years, with many opting for desperate measures in the hunt for a new life within the EU.

Here is a look at the shocking numbers behind the current migrant crisis.

The most popular route for illegal immigration into Europe remains via air - with many people who travelled on originally valid visas then overstaying their welcome.

EU border agency Frontex says that 108,000 people were detected staying illegally via this method in the first three months of 2015 alone - up almost a quarter since the same period in 2014.

However, many people seeking to enter Europe from countries like Syria and sub-Saharan Africa do so via the Mediterranean Sea.

This is a far more dangerous method. Around 1,900 migrants are believed to have died or gone missing while crossing via this route so far this year, according to new estimates.

The latest figures from the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) found that around 156,000 people had attempted to reach Europe via the sea up to 13 July.

The countries worst-hit by migrants and refugees arriving on their shores are Greece (87,000 since 1 January) and Italy (77,000) - both countries facing ongoing economic difficulties.

The perilous crossings are often conducted in overcrowded and unsafe vessels, and many of those on board pay huge amounts to human traffickers to gain a place.

Just today a shipwreck off the Libyan coast left 100 people feared dead or missing, the UNHCR told ITV News.

The latest available figures show around 626,000 people sought asylum in the European Union in 2014 - up from 31,000 in 2013 and the highest level since a peak in 1992.

Of those, the most popular destinations were:

  • Germany (203,000)

  • Sweden (81,000)

  • Italy (65,000)

  • France (64,000)

  • Hungary (43,000)

  • United Kingdom (32,000

The largest group of those attempting to reach Europe were Syrians - a country ravaged by civil war over recent years.

For those refugees and migrants that do seek to come to Britain, an increasingly popular route is via Calais.

Around 5,000 migrants are now believed to be in Calais - up from around 600 in January - though there is no available breakdown of where these people came from originally.

Home Secretary Theresa May said today more than 8,000 attempts by illegal migrants to reach Britain had been intercepted in just three weeks between June and July.

Officials at Eurotunnel say "we have never seen numbers like this before" - stating that migrants have been stopped and passed to authorities between 27,000 and 28,000 times in the last six months.