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Tally of migrants reaching EU borders passes 100,000 in July

Published 19/08/2015

Two migrants cling to the top of a lorry in Folkestone
Two migrants cling to the top of a lorry in Folkestone

The number of migrants reaching EU borders has hit a record high, surpassing 100,000 in July.

It was the third consecutive monthly record but jumps well past the previous high of 70,000 in June and is triple the figure recorded in July last year.

The figures released by Frontex, also show the number of detections between January and July reached nearly 340,000, compared to 123,500 in the same period last year and 280, 000 in all of 2014.

Th EU border agency called on all EU members states to offer more help to countries creaking under the ever-growing number of migrant arrivals

Border control authorities in Italy and Greece are facing unprecedented pressure from arrivals by boat, while Hungary is also struggling to cope with an influx of migrants travelling over its southern border with Serbia, Frontex said.

Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri said: "This is an emergency situation for Europe that requires all EU member states to step in to support the national authorities who are taking on a massive number of migrants at its borders.

"Frontex has called on member states to provide additional equipment and people to support our operations in Greece and in Hungary and the European Commission has approved national programmes to provide significant financial assistance to the member states to address these challenges."

European leaders announced earlier this year that 40,000 migrants will be relocated from Italy and Greece over the next two years.

But the UK has opted out of the scheme and urged the EU to focus on tackling trafficking gangs which arrange the crossings.

In July, the majority of detections, nearly 50,000 were reported in the Aegean Sea, mainly on the Greek islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos and Kos.

Greece has become the main gateway to Europe for tens of thousands of refugees and economic migrants, mainly Syrians fleeing war, as fighting in Libya has made the alternative route from North Africa to Italy increasingly dangerous.

Greek authorities say they are planning to use a ferry currently docked at the island of Kos to transport up to 2,500 migrants to a northern port where they can continue their journey to wealthier countries.

While Italy detected more than 20,000 migrants last month, bringing the total number to 90,000 so far in 2015. Nine out of every ten migrants taking the perilous journey from Libya to Italy come from Africa, mainly Eritrea and Nigeria.

In the Western Balkans, the Hungarian authorities reported more than 34,800 detections.

Amnesty International UK's refugee programme director Steve Symonds said: "Frontex's figures couldn't be clearer - Europe can't avoid the biggest global refugee crisis since the Second World War.

"We need to see the creation of safe and legal routes for those trying to enter Europe so they don't have to risk drowning in the Mediterranean or being crushed under lorries at Calais.

"The UK should be playing a far more constructive part in this crisis, including by working with our EU partners to see how Britain can provide protection to some of the desperate people fleeing conflict and persecution.

"When Theresa May goes to Calais tomorrow she should drop the 'tough' rhetoric on refugees and start talking about how the UK can save lives and protect the vulnerable."

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