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Migrant land-arrivals in Europe up seven-fold: U.N.

World | 2018-09-14 14:50:00
Migrant land-arrivals in Europe up seven-fold: U.N.
An estimated 18,000 irregular migrants have reached Europe by land this year, a more than seven-fold increase compared to the same period in 2017, the United Nations said Friday.

The most popular route is from Turkey to Greece, which accounted for more than 12,000 land arrivals from January to early September, the International Organization for Migration said.

Of the remaining 6,000, most have entered Europe via Cueta and Melilla, two Spanish territories attached to northern Morocco that mark the European Union's only land border with Africa.

The upsurge in land arrivals has coincided with a fall in the number of people trying to reach Europe by sea, as the Libyan coast guard has stepped up Mediterranean patrols seeking to block migrant ships.

According to IOM, some 74,500 migrants have reached Europe by sea so far this year, compared to 129,000 over the same period last year.

"We know that as soon as one route is blocked another one will open," IOM mission chief in Turkey Lado Gvilava, said in a statement, regarding the spike in land arrivals.

While the EU has sharply reduced migrant arrivals since a peak in 2015, the bloc remains under massive pressure to cut numbers further.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called this week for establishing a 10,000-strong EU border and coastguard force in two years to reduce migration.
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