Refugee and migrant arrivals in EU pass 1 million in 2015: UN

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The Latest Front for Europe's Migrant Crisis? The Balkans

The number of refugees and migrants arriving by land and sea in the European Union has passed 1 million this year, while a further 3,600 died or went missing, the U.N. refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration said on Tuesday.

Half of those arriving were Syrians fleeing the war, another 20 percent were Afghans, and 7 percent were Iraqis, the two agencies said in a joint statement.

Out of a total of 1,005,504 arrivals to Greece, Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, Malta and Cyprus by Dec. 21, the vast majority -- 816,752 -- arrived by sea in Greece, IOM said.

"We know migration is inevitable, it's necessary and it's desirable," IOM chief William Lacy Swing said in the statement.

For more on this story, scroll through the gallery below:

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NTP: 12,000 migrants arrive in Slovenia
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Refugee and migrant arrivals in EU pass 1 million in 2015: UN
DOBOVA, SLOVENIA - OCTOBER 22: Migrants are escorted by police through Dobova as they walk to a holding camp on October 22, 2015 in Dobova, Slovenia. Thousands of migrants marched across the border between Croatia into Slovenia as authorities intensify their efforts to attempt to cope with Europe's largest migration of people since World War II. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
DOBOVA, SLOVENIA - OCTOBER 22: Migrants are escorted by police through Dobova as they are walked holding camp on October 22, 2015 in Dobova, Slovenia. Thousands of migrants marched across the border from Croatia into Slovenia as authorities intensify their efforts to attempt to cope with a human tide unseen in Europe since World War II. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
DOBOVA, SLOVENIA - OCTOBER 22: Young children pose for the camera as migrants are escorted by police through Dobova as they walk to a holding camp on October 22, 2015 in Dobova, Slovenia. Thousands of migrants marched across the border between Croatia into Slovenia as authorities intensify their efforts to attempt to cope with Europe's largest migration of people since World War II. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
DOBOVA, SLOVENIA - OCTOBER 22: Migrant children look through a metal fence as they rest at a temporary holding area after being escorted by police from the Croatian and Slovenia border October 22, 2015 in Dobova, Slovenia. Thousands of migrants marched across the border from Croatia into Slovenia as authorities intensify their efforts to attempt to cope with a human tide unseen in Europe since World War II. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
DOBOVA, SLOVENIA - OCTOBER 22: Migrants are escorted by police through Dobova as they walk to a holding camp on October 22, 2015 in Dobova, Slovenia. Thousands of migrants marched across the border between Croatia into Slovenia as authorities intensify their efforts to attempt to cope with Europe's largest migration of people since World War II. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
DOBOVA, SLOVENIA - OCTOBER 22: Migrants are escorted by police through Dobova as they are walked holding camp on October 22, 2015 in Dobova, Slovenia. Thousands of migrants marched across the border from Croatia into Slovenia as authorities intensify their efforts to attempt to cope with a human tide unseen in Europe since World War II. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
DOBOVA, SLOVENIA - OCTOBER 22: Migrants are escorted by police through Dobova as they walk to a holding camp on October 22, 2015 in Dobova, Slovenia. Thousands of migrants marched across the border between Croatia into Slovenia as authorities intensify their efforts to attempt to cope with Europe's largest migration of people since World War II. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
DOBOVA, SLOVENIA - OCTOBER 22: Migrants are escorted by police through Dobova as they walk to a holding camp on October 22, 2015 in Dobova, Slovenia. Thousands of migrants marched across the border between Croatia into Slovenia as authorities intensify their efforts to attempt to cope with Europe's largest migration of people since World War II. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
DOBOVA, SLOVENIA - OCTOBER 22: A young child is seen as migrants are escorted by police through Dobova as they walk to a holding camp on October 22, 2015 in Dobova, Slovenia. Thousands of migrants marched across the border between Croatia into Slovenia as authorities intensify their efforts to attempt to cope with Europe's largest migration of people since World War II. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
DOBOVA, SLOVENIA - OCTOBER 22: Migrants rest at a temporary holding area after being escorted by police from the Croatian and Slovenia border October 22, 2015 in Dobova, Slovenia. Thousands of migrants marched across the border from Croatia into Slovenia as authorities intensify their efforts to attempt to cope with a human tide unseen in Europe since World War II. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Migrant kids play as they wait to cross the Slovenia-Austrian border in Spielfeld, Austria, on October 22, 2015. Some thousands of people wait to cross the border at Spielfeld and continue further to Austria and Germany .AFP PHOTO / VLADIMIR SIMICEK (Photo credit should read Vladimir Simicek/AFP/Getty Images)
DOBOVA, SLOVENIA - OCTOBER 22: Migrants are escorted by police through Dobova as they walk to a holding camp on October 22, 2015 in Dobova, Slovenia. Thousands of migrants marched across the border between Croatia into Slovenia as authorities intensify their efforts to attempt to cope with Europe's largest migration of people since World War II. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
A group of about 1,000 migrants walks from the border crossing with Croatia, on October 22, 2015, near the village Rigonce to Dobova in Slovenia. More than 12,600 migrants arrived in Slovenia over a 24-hour period, police said on October 22, 2015, a record that surpasses even that in Hungary at the height of the crisis in September. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
Migrants take a selfie at the border crossing in Spielfeld, Austria, on October 22, 2015. Some thousands of people wait to cross the border at Spielfeld and continue further to Austria and Germany. AFP PHOTO / VLADIMIR SIMICEK (Photo credit should read Vladimir Simicek/AFP/Getty Images)
Children, travelling along with a group of approximately 1,000 migrants, look on as Slovenian police officers stand before them while being escorted from the border crossing with Croatia, on October 22, 2015, near the village of Rigonce in Slovenia. More than 12,600 migrants arrived in Slovenia over a 24-hour period, police said on October 22, 2015, a record that surpasses even that in Hungary at the height of the crisis in September. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
About 1000 migrants are escorted by Slovenian police officers from the border crossing with Croatia, on October 22, 2015, near the village Rigonce to Dobova in Slovenia. More than 12,600 migrants arrived in Slovenia over a 24-hour period, police said on October 22, 2015, a record that surpasses even that in Hungary at the height of the crisis in September. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
DOBOVA, SLOVENIA - OCTOBER 22: Migrants are escorted by police through Dobova as they are walked holding camp on October 22, 2015 in Dobova, Slovenia. Thousands of migrants marched across the border from Croatia into Slovenia as authorities intensify their efforts to attempt to cope with a human tide unseen in Europe since World War II. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
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"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 home."

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR is planning for arrivals to continue at a similar rate in 2016, but IOM spokesman Joel Millman said it was impossible to forecast future numbers.

"So much is in the balance, the resolution of the Syrian war, and the disposition of the European border protection moves that are being contemplated," he said.

"We never thought it would reach this level. We just hope people are treated with dignity."

SEE MORE: Incredible images show waves of migrants making their way into Europe

The record movement of people into Europe is a symptom of a record level of disruption around the globe, with numbers of refugees and internally displaced people far surpassing 60 million, UNHCR said last week.

"I don't understand why people are insisting that this is a European problem. This is a global issue," Michael Moller, director of the U.N. office in Geneva, told a news conference on Tuesday.

The U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres called on Friday for a "massive resettlement" of Syrian and other refugees within Europe, to distribute many hundreds of thousands of people before the continent's asylum system crumbles.

He called for European countries to recognize the positive contributions made by refugees and migrants and to honor what he said were "core European values: protecting lives, upholding human rights and promoting tolerance and diversity."

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