The number of migrants found to be crossing the
Mediterranean Sea from northern Africa to Spain rose by 22 per cent
in July, amid an Italian clampdown on arrivals at its shores, the
European Union's border agency Frontex reported Tuesday.
Italy has been closing its ports to vessels rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean, insisting that other EU member states must first agree to take in those on board. Frontex found that around 1,100 migrants reached Europe via the so-called central-Mediterranean route in July, slightly down from 1,150 in June.
By the end of July, almost 4,900 people had travelled that route - just over a quarter of the arrivals detected during the same period last year. Around 13,000 people were recorded crossing into Spain between January and July, according to the data published Tuesday. The busiest route, meanwhile, was through the eastern Mediterranean via Greece, where almost 5,800 arrivals were recorded in July and nearly 28,200 since the start of the year. The eastern Mediterranean figure is 6 per cent lower than last year - due largely to a drop in land crossings from Turkey to Greece.
However, the Greek islands registered a 25-per-cent increase in arrivals compared to the first seven months of 2018. The upstream western Balkan countries counted nearly 5,800 illegal border crossings since January - double last year's figures. Overall, around 54,300 illegal border crossings were detected along Europe's main migration routes in the first seven months of 2019. This is around 30 per cent lower than during the same period last year, according to Frontex.
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