About 17,000 irregular migrants and refugees reached Europe by sea since the beginning of 2019, the UN migration agency said Friday.
Of that figure, 493 perished at sea, according a report published by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
During the same period last year, 24,492 refugees and migrants entered Europe and 620 drowned in the Mediterranean Sea.
Arrivals to Greece were higher than other Mediterranean countries. Between Jan. 1 and May 8 more than 7,800 irregular migrants entered through Greece.
Spain was closely behind with 7,202 arrivals. Arrivals to Spain increased compared to last year’s figures of 5,219 arrivals.
“[The] IOM office notes that more than half of 2019’s arrivals landed in the year’s first 31 days, and more than two thirds within the year’s first 60 days,” said IOM Spain.
Seventy migrants were killed and 16 rescued after a boat sank off the Tunisian coast Friday, the Tunisian Press Agency reported.
A total of 30,510 migrants died between 2014 and 2018 while making the treacherous journey to Europe, the UN agency reported in January./aa