Statistics by the International Organization for Migration suggest that more than 430,000 people fleeing war, poverty and persecution have crossed the Mediterranean to reach Europe in 2015. The World Health Organization has called for international action to respond to the public health challenges resulting from Europe's worst migrant crisis in decades. It has urged assistance for refugees exhausted from long and perilous journeys.
WHO European director Zsuzsanna Jakab said, "As refugees and migrants move, inter-country coordination must be strengthened across the European region, as well as with the countries of origin and transit. The migrant influx calls for a regional, comprehensive and systematic public health response."
WHO coordinator for public health and migration Santino Severoni said, "Many of those arriving, including babies, children and the elderly, suffer from dehydration, hypothermia, small wounds or discontinuation of treatment."
The UN agency said, "We would hold a high-level conference soon to agree on a common public health approach to large-scale migration in Europe."
They have dismissed widespread concerns that migrants would import infectious diseases, noting that not a single case of Ebola was brought into Europe by refugees or migrants. Severoni said, "Sick individuals would be unable to undertake the often arduous journey to a new life in Europe."
The WHO's call for action came as the European Union's 28 interior ministers met to discuss proposals for a binding quota system to distribute migrants among member states.