ROME: A total 1,546 people died this year till August 22 while trying to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa while 65,576 migrants and refugees reached Europe by sea over the period, the UN migration agency said on Friday.
Spain, with 42 per cent of all arrivals through the year, was the leading destination in 2018. It has continued to receive seaborne migrants in August at a volume more than twice that of Greece and more than six times that of Italy, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) reported.
Arrivals to Italy through late August were the lowest recorded at this point of a normally busy summer season in almost five years, IOM noted, after anti-migrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini controversially barred charity and international rescue vessels from delivering migrants to Italian ports and set a target of zero arrivals.
Total arrivals to Europe this year are less than half 120,624 boat migrants who entered the region at the same point of 2017 and fewer than a quarter of the 271,951 who landed in 2016, IOM reported.
IOM said 12,998 migrants have been returned to Libya this year by the country's European Union backed Coast Guard.