Is the number of migrants arriving to Italy increasing or decreasing? The European Union’s border agency Frontex and the Italian interior ministry appeared to disagree on February 13.
Frontex said the number had increased in January compared to the previous month and to the same month last year. “The number of migrants arriving in Italy via the Central Mediterranean route in January rose to more than 4,800, double the figure from the previous month, when smuggling activities were affected by fighting near the departure areas and poor weather,” the agency said. “The monthly total was roughly in line with January of last year.”
However, the interior ministry announced migrant arrivals had dropped by 50% over the same period in 2017 to 4,731 so far this year.
The drop was reportedly sharper from Libya: 3,534 in 2018, compared to 9,007 in 2017, a drop of 61%, the ministry added. Of the arrivals so far this year, 621 were unaccompanied minors.
Contacted by the Italian news agency ANSA, Frontex confirmed “there is no indication of a change in the general trend of falling” migrant arrivals “which started in summer of 2017”.
“The number of irregular migrants who arrived in Italy in December 2017 was the lowest in three years. The numbers rose slightly in January, remaining however in line with the January 2017 figures.”
After the slight rise in January, Frontex explained: “The number plunged to 249 in the first 12 days of February, 95% lower than the same period in 2017”.
According to ANSA, Frontex and the Italian interior ministry appeared to agree on trends in nationality of the migrants arriving in Italy.