UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — The number of migrants or missing people trying to cross from the Mediterranean to Europe fell by more than a quarter in 2018 compared to last year, or 2262 people, the UN refugee agency said on Thursday.
The number of immigrants arriving in Europe in the same year fell almost at the same level, with 11,342 people coming down from 17,301 last year, according to UNHCR. The number of missing or killed in 2017 to 3139 immigrants.
“For years, the Mediterranean has created a more deadly sea in the world for immigrants and refugees,” UNHCR spokeswoman Celine Schmidt told AFP.
The data also confirmed that Spain has become the main crossing point for migrants and refugees from North Africa to Europe, with 55,756 arrivals by sea in 2018.
For Italy, which is ruled by parties strongly opposed to immigration, the number of arrivals dropped sharply last year to 23,371, from 119,369 in 2017, from Libya.
All data are lower than 2015 when they reached their peak, with nearly one million people crossing the Mediterranean to Europe, especially Turkey or Greece. The effects of the influx of migrants that year are still present on the continent, fueled by debates over immigration policies and the promotion of political right-wing parties in countries that have received large numbers of immigrants such as Italy, Germany and Sweden.
European nations were also outraged in 2018 by rescue ships loaded with immigrants, after the populist government in Italy closed its ports to a number of those ships.
The EU is working with North African countries, particularly in Libya, which is in an armed conflict by providing financial assistance and helping guard the border in an effort to reduce the flow of migrants.
The European Union has also funded development and border protection projects in a number of other poorer African countries, which are a source of migrants and transit centers.
The largest number of immigrants to Europe came from Guinea in West Africa (13067 immigrants), followed by Morocco (12745) and Mali (10,327).
The Syrians were the fourth largest group of migrants (9,939), followed by the Afghans (7,621) and the Iraqis (7333).
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