The number of migrant arrivals to Italy has dropped significantly, while the number of migrants arriving in Spain have doubled, making it now the top port for migrant arrivals, followed by Greece.
Migrant reception centres on Greece’s Aegean Islands are experiencing alarming rates of overcrowding, at a nearly record-breaking rate of 20,000 migrants.
Brussels is pushing the Greek government to speed up the transfer of 3,000 asylum seekers to the mainland in order to alleviate the burden at migrant camps, such as Moria, which has been the subject of numerous complaints by NGOs in recent days.
August arrivals in line with 2017 numbers
Figures from EU border agency Frontex show the number of migrant arrivals in the EU in August 2018 – a total of 12,500 – were similar to the numbers from the same month in 2017.
In Greece, 4,200 migrants were intercepted, down 11 percent compared to last year. With 1,500 arrivals, Italy saw a 62 percent drop, while Spain doubled its numbers for the second consecutive month, with 6,500 arrivals.
Numbers remained low in the Western Balkans, on the main route through Serbia, Hungary and Croatia; however, migratory pressure showed up on a parallel route through Albania, Montenegro, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
In the first eight months of 2018, 86,500 migrants entered the EU, a 40 percent drop compared to 2017, mainly due to the reduction in migrant flows through the Central Mediterranean route.
Italy has seen an 80 percent decrease in migrant arrivals in 2018 so far, compared to the same period in 2017.
In Spain, 29,600 migrants have arrived thus far this year, mainly originating from Morocco, Guinea, and Mali, with Sub-Saharan migrants comprising over three fourths of incomers.
The presence in Spain of some nationalities that usually cross on the Central Mediterranean route through Libya shows that the migrant flows have shifted.
In Greece, an increase in migrants crossing the Turkish land border has brought the total of migrants intercepted thus far this year to 34,300, a 58 percent increase.
Over 1,500 deaths in the Mediterranean this year
The migrant death toll also remains high.
Since January 1 of this year, a total of 1,586 men, women, and children have died in the Mediterranean while trying to reach Europe, according to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). More than 1,100 of the victims lost their lives on the Central Mediterranean route from North Africa to Italy and Malta.