01 May 2016
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"The number of migrants arriving on the Greek islands in April plunged by 90% compared to the previous month, reaching fewer than 2 700. The drop is a result of several factors, including The EU-Turkey agreement and stricter border policies applied by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia at its border with Greece.
“The drop in the number of arrivals on the Greek islands was dramatic. The total for all of April is well below the number of people we often saw reaching just the island of Lesbos on a daily basis during last year’s peak months,” said Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri.
Syrians again accounted for the largest share of the migrants coming to the Greek islands, trailed by nationals from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Due to the significant drop in arrivals on the Aegean islands in April, the number of migrants reaching Italy exceeded the totals for Greece for the first time since June 2015. The reversal occurred despite the fact that 8 370 migrants detected on the Central Mediterranean route represented a 13% fall from March and a nearly 50% drop compared to the same month of 2015.
Nationals of Eritrea, Egypt and Nigeria accounted for the largest share of migrants on this route, with no new signs of a significant shift of migrants from the Eastern Mediterranean route."
See: Number of migrants arriving in Greece dropped 90% in April (Frontex, link).
The EU and its Member States are currently working on ways to shut down the "Central Mediterranean route" as it comes to supplant the Aegean Sea as the main way into Europe for those denied safe passage. See: Migration: discussions on the "Central Mediterranean Route", EU Travel Information and Authorisation System; Visa Code negotiations (Statewatch News Online, May 2016)
While Frontex has stated that there are "no new signs of a significant shift of migrants from the Eastern Mediterranean route," a report published by Reuters yesterday noted that:
"Italy's coastguard said it helped rescue 801 migrants from two boats off western Sicily on Thursday, including many Syrians, amid signs that refugees from the Middle East are increasingly shunning the Greek route into Europe.
The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said the two boats aided on Thursday, which were also carrying some Iraqis, represented the largest such attempted mass migration from Syria and Iraq to Italy for at least a year."
See: Italian coastguard rescues 801 boat migrants, many from Syria (Reuters, link)
More detailed statistics on arrivals this year are available from the IOM, for 2016 so far as a whole and month-by-month (updated 10 May 2016): Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals in 2016: 187,631; Deaths: 1,357 (link): "IOM reports an estimated 187,631 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea in 2016, arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain, through 8 May and 1,357 fatalities on the three major Mediterranean Sea routes connecting North Africa and Middle East to Europe. The number of fatalities is unchanged since last Friday."
See also: More refugees arriving in Italy than Greece (EUobserver, link): "More migrants trying to make their way into Europe are arriving in Italy than Greece for the first time in a year, according to the latest UN figures.
While 9,149 migrants arrived to the shores of Italy in April, Greece received 3,462 people, figures of the UN's refugee agency show.
In March, before the EU-Turkey deal came into force, under which Ankara pledged to take back migrants from Greece, 26,971 people arrived to Greece, while 9,676 arrived to Italy."
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