Italy is now the top spot for refugee arrivals

Italy is now the top spot for refugee arrivals

Migrant arrivals to Italy have overtaken arrivals in Greece for the first time since June 2015, according to EU borders’ association Frontex.

The agency reported that 8370 migrants had landed in the central Mediterranean in April, compared to just 2700 for Greece.

According to Frontex director, Fabrice Leggeri, Italy’s eclipsing of Greece was not down to an increase in arrivals but was instead down to a ‘drastic reduction’ in the number of refugees arriving on the Greek islands. “The total of all of April is well below the number of people we often saw reaching just the island of Lesbos on a daily basis during last year’s peak months”, Leggeri said.

Increased controls at the Greek-Macedonia border as well as recent pact between Greek and Turkey signed in late March that will see Turkey take thousands of asylum seekers from Greece, were both cited as key factors in the stark drop in arrivals. Frontex emphasized that arrivals to central Europe were actually down 15 per cent compared to March and were 50 percent lower than in April 2015.

The news comes as 1000 refugees came ashore in Italy having been picked up in the Mediterranean by four separate rescue vessels. The Sicilian port of Augusta is expecting to see some 342 disembark while 250 are scheduled to come ashore in Catania and 173 at the Palermo.

According to Frontex, the majority of arrivals to Central Europe in April were Eritrean, Egyptian and Nigerian origin – compared to Syrian nationals which made up the majority of all arrivals to Greece.

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