Friday 20 October 2017

Fall in migrants reaching the EU by sea

Migrants, mostly from Syria, make the dangerous crossing to Greece Picture: PA
Migrants, mostly from Syria, make the dangerous crossing to Greece Picture: PA

Tom Heneghan

The number of migrants reaching the European Union by sea fell by two-thirds in 2016 due to a migration deal with Turkey, but arrivals in Italy from north Africa hit an all-time high.

The deal concluded in March provides Turkey with billions of euro as long as it keeps refugees on its territory and stops people smugglers from moving them across the Aegean to Greece.

It also involved promises to Ankara of financial aid, visa-free travel to much of the EU and accelerated membership talks.

Migrants still making the journey across the western Mediterranean mainly came from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, the EU's border agency Frontex said.

Some 181,000 migrants arrived in Italy in 2016 from north Africa through the so-called central Mediterranean route, the highest number ever recorded and 20pc more than last year, it said.

The largest group of migrants arriving in Italy were Nigerians, Eritreans and Guineans.

The International Organisation for Migration said 2016 was the deadliest year for migration in the Mediterranean with almost 5,000 deaths.

Irish Independent

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