EU border agency Frontex announced on Friday (12 August) that more than 25,000 migrants arrived in Italy last month, marking a 12 percent increase compared to the same period last year. Most of the migrants originated from North Africa, Nigeria and Eritrea. The number of arrivals between January and July 2016 was stable, about 95,000 people, with more than 400 having lost their lives in the attempt.
However, Frontex said that the circumstances under which migrants are undergoing their journey to Europe are worsening. Suggesting that especially the quality of boats used by smugglers is deteriorating, the agency stated that “In recent months, poor quality rubber boats accounted for four out of every five vessels used,” while also adding that “many of the migrants spoke of being forced onto the dinghies and small wooden boats despite fearing for their lives.” Due to restrictions on migrants’ movement further north, many asylum-seekers are stuck in Italy. Over 3,000 people are, for example, stranded in Milan, as France and Switzerland tightened border controls. Migrant arrivals through Greece were a bit lower than in July last year, mostly thanks to the migrant agreement between the EU and Turkey.
Last year, EU countries received more than 1.2 million first time asylum applications, most of them having reached Europe via the Mediterranean. The number marked an increase by roughly 100 percent compared to 2014. Austria, Germany, Hungary and Sweden received about two-thirds of all asylum applications. More than half of the incomers originated from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. On top of the EU-Turkey deal, the EU continues to emphasize preventing departures and combatting human trafficking and smuggling over problematic cooperation with Turkey and other transit countries.