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I start off two sentences with "in" and it really irks me. Is this okay, does it sound bad? Any recommendations on how to reword the beginning of my sentences would be appreciated.

"In response to the current geopolitical crises plaguing the Middle East, specifically the Syrian Civil War, the war in Afghanistan, and instability in Iraq, the countries of Western Europe have experienced a substantial influx of refugees. In 2015 over a million migrants crossed into Europe seeking asylum, a number unprecedented in recent history."

I thought of changing the second sentence to "Over a million crossed into Europe seeking asylum in 2015, a number unprecedented in recent history," but after I read it, the flow felt worse.

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    In general, beginning two successive sentences with the same word tends to suggest poor writing style, and may sound awkward. In this case, however, there is little reason to worry about it -- just be aware of such situations and double-check yourself when it seems appropriate. – Hot Licks Dec 26 '18 at 3:27
  • The two ins are so far apart I don't even know what you're on about. In that span, you repeat the word "of" twice, and "the" a whopping four times. And that doesn't irk you somehow. As well it shouldn't. – RegDwigнt Dec 26 '18 at 3:34
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    In some cases this is OK. In other cases it isn't. – Hot Licks Apr 15 '19 at 1:43
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    @HotLicks When I first read the question, I though I should answer with two sentences both starting with "in". Thanks for saving me the trouble of making up such sentences. (I was going to start the second sentence with "In fact".) – Andreas Blass Apr 15 '19 at 2:30
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In agreement I would be tempted to replace obvious duplication.
In your second sentence this can be easily remedied.

"In response to the current geopolitical crises plaguing the Middle East, specifically the Syrian Civil War, the war in Afghanistan, and instability in Iraq, the countries of Western Europe have experienced a substantial influx of refugees. During 2015 over a million migrants crossed into Europe seeking asylum, a number unprecedented in recent history."

Alternately Throughout etc.

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Possible suggestion:

"Over a million crossed into Europe in 2015 seeking asylum , a number unprecedented in recent history,"

or

"The number of people having crossed into Europe in 2015 seeking asylum exceeds a million, a number unprecedented in recent history,"

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