(ANSAmed) – Brussels, June 16 – EU border agency Frontex said Thursday that “at the end of May more than 13,000 people were saved in the central Mediterranean in a single week (May 20-27), the highest total ever recorded in the area”. Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri, who is planning to move crews and frontier guards from the Aegean, directed “an appeal to States to give Frontex more boats to give full support” to Italy. An increasing number of migrants is heading for Italy from North Africa after the closure of the Balkan Route through Greece.
The number of migrants who landed in Italy in the first five months of the year was roughly in line with the same period in 2015, Frontex said. But in May some 19,00 arrived, more than double the total in April, because of the growing number of migrants from west Africa and the Horn of Africa, it said. For the second month in a row the number of people arriving in Italy from Libya and Egypt surpassed the arrivals in Greece, where thanks to an EU-Turkey deal the number fell to 1,500, 60% down.
The EU-Turkey deal virtually shut down the Balkan Route through Greece. Many more migrants are expected from North Africa this summer despite fighting in Libya.
Eurostat, meanwhile, said Thursday that the number of first-time asylum seekers applying for international protection in the European Union fell to 287,100 in the first quarter of 2016, down 33% on the 426,000 registered in the same period last year. Italy was second for the number of asylum seekers in the first quarter with 22,300, 8% of the total, well behind Germany with 175,000 first-time applicants in this period, 61%.