EUROPE’S borders crisis showed no signs of easing up as figures revealed that the number of migrants arriving daily by boat has trebled in just one year.
Only a fortnight into 2016, almost 25,000 refugees have reached the EU at a rate of over 1,700 every day.
The rate is three times the 570 who reached Italy or Greece by boat every day last January.
The first sailings of 2016 also brought the first deaths.
At least 59 men, women and children have tragically lost their lives – nine trying to reach Italy from Libya and the other 50 after their boats capsized in the Agean Sea.
Experts fear that the huge number of New Year arrivals means the total number coming to Europe in search of a better life in 2016 will far outstrip the 1.1million who arrived last year.
The International Organisation for Migration data will heighten fears that migration is spiralling out of control across Europe’s borders.
Kelly Namia of the IoM said more than 23,000 migrants – mainly Syrians – reached Greece in the first two weeks of this year.
The figure dwarfs the 3,000 documented by Greek police in the whole of January 2015.
Ms Namia added: “The arrivals continue to be on a high level. It is difficult to predict what will happen as the situation changes every day but from what we have seen this month it seems that the numbers will be higher in 2016 than in 2015.”
Steven Woolfe, UKIP’s migration spokesman said: “What a disastrous start to the year for the EU’s much heralded new border control strategy.
“After Chancellor Merkel’s open door asylum policy and the EU’s £2bn bribe to Turkey to get them to fulfil their international obligations to refugees, the stream of migrants landing in Europe is rising inexorably.
“Across the capitals of Europe policymakers will be quaking in their boots in the face of these numbers.
“Turkey is failing to dismantle the operations of its people smugglers. The Greek government is floundering with a backlog of arrivals as northern EU countries reject the migrant flow across the continent.
“The humanitarian and security crisis we predicted is developing before our very eyes.”
The IoM figures published yesterday showed that 23,664 migrants had arrived by boat in Italy and Greece in the first 14 days of the year.
A mere 362 landed in Italy.
The rest arrived on Greece’s Agean islands, mainly Lesbos, after making the short but perilous sea journey from the Turkish coast.
The figures do not include around 450 additional migrants who were rescued at sea yesterday and were due to be brought to Italy.
Over 4,000 Arabs, Asians and Africans died making their bid for a better life in the EU in 2015.
Last year, more than 1.1million “irregular” migrants arrived in the EU, threatening the stability of countries in their path.
The biggest mass movement of people across the continent since the Second World War caused the bloc’s flagship border-free Schengen Zone to unravel.
Passport controls and border fences have been thrown up across the EU as countries struggle to cope with the influx of migrants.
In the most high-profile case, Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban ordered a 110-mile razor-wire fence be built along its border with Serbia – a hotspot for those wanting to get into the EU overland.
The success of the fencing led him to extend it to cover the frontier with Croatia.
Many are genuine refugees fleeing Syria’s bloody civil war but a huge number are also economic migrants trying to take advantage of the chaos to start a better life in rich northern European countries.
Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel provoked a storm of public outrage when she announced that any Syrians reaching her country would automatically win asylum.
Sweden issued a similar invitation.
The move prompted a fresh wave of migration and pushed transport links to breaking point.
It also boosted the lucrative trade in fake and stolen Syrian passports.
More than one million migrants made their way overland to Germany.
Truckers, commuters and holiday makers passing through the area run the gauntlet of rampaging migrants attempting to break into their vehicles in a bid to reach Britain.
The situation has become so dangerous French authorities have sent in a crack unit of armed riot police to calm the situation and protect the Eurostar train services.
Charter flights bringing Syrian refugees to the UK have been arriving since last November as part of David Cameron’s pledge to accept 20,000 by 2020.