Frontex reports around 350,000 migrants entered the EU so far this year | News | DW | 17.12.2016
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Frontex reports around 350,000 migrants entered the EU so far this year

Frontex, the EU's border agency, has reported that 350,000 people have arrived in the EU so far this year. The number is a sharp fall from last year's total.

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Africa's population flees

Fabrice Leggeri, executive director of the Frontex border agency, told German news outlet "Ruhr Nachrichten" that around 180,000 people arrived by way of Turkey and the eastern Mediterranean region, while roughly 170,000 crossed into the EU using the central Mediterranean route from Libya and Egypt.

The number is a sharp drop from the more than one million migrants and refugees who entered the EU last year. Leggeri suggested that the deal reached between the EU and Turkey in March was a significant factor in why the number had fallen.

Leggeri said that while the deal has been working, the EU must now turn its attention to the African countries from where many migrants were departing.

Frontex Chef Fabrice Leggeri in Berlin (Getty Images/AFP/J. Macdougall)

Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri

Pressure from Africa

Leggeri said that while ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq would continue to cause people to flee towards Europe, the "pressure for now is coming especially from Africa." Overall migration from Africa has risen 30 percent this past year, according to Frontex figures.

The Frontex chief would not say if he thought the number of refugees would continue to fall. "Prognoses are always difficult. I would be really happy if the number of refugees in the coming year remained stable and didn't increase," Leggeri said.

Brussels is currently at work forming partnerships with various African countries to help with the ongoing problem of migration towards Europe. The plan is for the EU to offer aid packages to the countries concerned to help them tackle the root causes for migration - such as poverty and conflict. The accords would be in exchange for being able to send back asylum seekers whose applications have been denied.

The EU reached such a deal with Mali earlier this week. The EU is also working with countries including Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Ethiopia.

blc/jm (AP, AFP)

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