As 2016 dawns, Europe braces for more waves of migrants

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — At the start of a new year, there appears to be little hope that the endless flow of desperate people fleeing war or poverty to get to Europe will ease.

So far, the migrants haven’t been deterred by bitter cold, biting winds and rough winter seas. Boatloads continue to reach Greek shores. Thousands of migrants trudge across Balkan fields and country roads heading north.

More than a million people reached Europe in 2015 in the continent’s largest refugee influx since the end of World War II. It’s a crisis that has tested European unity. Nearly 3,800 people are estimated to have drowned in the Mediterranean last year, making the journey to Greece or Italy in unseaworthy vessels packed far beyond capacity.

The European Union has pledged to bolster patrols on its external borders and quickly deport economic migrants. Turkey has agreed to crack down on smugglers operating from its coastline. But those on the front lines of the crisis say the coming year promises to be difficult unless there is a dramatic change.

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APPHOTO XYK106: Volunteers try to keep warm next to a makeshift fire on a beach of the Greek island of Lesbos, while waiting for arrivals of refugees and migrants from the Turkish coast, at the early hours, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. More than a million people hoping to escape war and poverty have made their way into Europe this year, according to migration monitors, but attention has been focused on two more common routes — across the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece or across the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios) (1 Jan 2016)

<<APPHOTO XYK106 (01/01/16)££

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