The European Union’s border agency Frontex said on August 14 that the number of African migrants arriving in Italy after crossing the Mediterranean from Libya dropped by more than half in July from June. But the number of migrants on a secondary, western Mediterranean route to Spain rose sharply last month, it said.
According to the data presented by Frontex, 10,160 migrants arrived from Northern Africa on Italy’s southern shores in July, 57% fewer than in June and the lowest level of arrivals in July since 2014.
Bad weather and clashes in the region of Libya from where many migrants depart on smugglers’ boats contributed to the decline, the agency said.
“In addition, increased presence of the Libyan Coast Guard also discouraged the people smugglers from sending out boats with migrants,” Frontex said.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, Italy has been the main gateway to Europe since a 2016 deal with Ankara shut off the route from Turkey to EU member Greece, which had mostly been used by Syrian refugees.
Frontex said 2,300 migrants made it to Spain in July, more than four times as many as a year earlier. Arrivals in Spain in the first seven months were “around 11,000, already exceeding the number for all of 2016,” it said.