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Europe saw huge decline in migrant arrivals in 2016: EU
[WARSAW] The number of migrants arriving in Europe by two main sea routes in 2016 plunged by almost two-thirds to 364,000 compared with the previous year, EU border agency Frontex said Friday.
Frontex pointed to an EU border deal with Turkey which came into effect in March as having paved the way to a massive decline in the arrival of Syrian refugees and other migrants in Greece.
Preliminary estimates show that in 2016 "the number of migrants detected on Greece's islands in the eastern Aegean and its mainland dropped by 79 per cent to 182,500," Frontex said.
At the same time, the border agency noted that Italy was the exception having experienced a record number of arrivals last year, highlighting the increasing migratory pressure from Africa via the central Mediterranean.
Frontex said it detected a record 181,000 migrants along this route last year, representing a 20 per cent spike over 2015.
The influx of more than one million asylum seekers - mostly from war-torn Syria - into the European Union in 2015 triggered the worst refugee and migrant crisis on the continent since World War II.