Record Numbers Of Migrants Arrive in Europe Last Month: U.N.

Despite deteriorating weather conditions, a monthly record of 218,394 migrants and refugees reached Europe by sea in October, the U.N. says, including one day during which more than 10,000 arrived to Greece alone. The monthly figure is almost as many as the total number of arrivals to Europe in 2014.

The vast majority of refugees—210,265—arrived in Greece, a spokesman for U.N. refugee agency UNHCR announced on Monday, while 8,129 arrived in Italy. More than 744,000 have now made the journey since the beginning of the year, compared with 219,000 during the whole of 2014.

On October 20, just over 10,000 people arrived to Greece, more than on any other day so far this year, with an average of 8,700 for each day that week.

Despite the worsening weather conditions as winter sets in, many migrants and asylum seekers have decided to make the perilous journey partly due to fears that Europe's nations are increasingly choosing to close their borders to the new arrivals.

Austria announced last week that it would build a fence on the border with fellow EU member Slovenia in order to regulate the flow of refugees and migrants trying to get across, while Germany has warned Austria to better patrol its borders to stop asylum seekers crossing at night. Slovenia has become the main point of entry for refugees aiming to reach Europe via the Balkan route after Hungary closed its border with Croatia last month.

"There is a lot of fear and a huge drive to get out now, while they still can," Kate O'Sullivan, part of Save the Children's emergency response team on the Greek island of Lesbos, told Newsweek last week. "People feel like it's now or never."

Renewed violence in Aleppo, in Syria, due to Russian airstrikes in September has also contributed to the new surge in asylum seekers. Last month, the president of the European Council Donald Tusk announced that Russia's involvement had created 100,000 new Syrian refugees.

More and more asylum seekers are dying as a result of the dangerous weather conditions. At least 70 people have drowned trying to reach Greek islands in the past week, reports the BBC, while the bodies of four men were recovered from the Aegean Sea on Monday and another seven people are missing off the island of Farmakonisi.

This year alone, 3,329 have drowned or have been declared missing while trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, according to the International Organization for Migration. More than 90 children have drowned since September, according to the charity Save the Children.

Smugglers operating large, unseaworthy boats on the Aegean Sea have also begun charging discounts of up to 50 percent for those who agree to make the journey in poor weather. The price is less for children, and sometimes they can travel for free. Ron Redmond, regional spokesperson for the UNHCR, told Newsweek last week that the tactic was effective, despite the "extremely grave risk" involved.