Over half million migrants enter Europe this year, agency reveals

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More than half a million migrants arrived in Europe in the first eight months of the year, official figures show.

The number passed 500,000 after a record 156,000 people crossed EU borders in August.

The figures, published by the 28-nation bloc’s external borders agency Frontex, mean migrants have arrived at a rate of more than 2,000 every day. By contrast, there were 280,000 detections at borders in the whole of last year.

A number of EU countries are responding to an unprecedented wave of migrants and refugees arriving from North Africa and the Middle East.

Frontex said Greek islands detected the largest number of migrants last month, with 88,000 – an eleven-fold rise compared to the same month last year.

Nearly three-quarters of the people arriving from Turkey were Syrians.

Frontex executive director Fabrice Leggeri said: “The Greek islands continue to be under an intense migratory pressure.”

The figures were disclosed as Hungary closed a major border crossing and introduced new laws to clampdown on illegal entry into the country.

The number of detections at the Hungary-Serbia border jumped 20-fold to more than 52,000, bringing the total so far this year to more than 155,000.

Last week, figures showed that a record 504,210 people had lodged asylum claims in the EU so far this year.

Meanwhile, separate data published yesterday showed the number of migrants losing their lives in the Mediterranean continues to rise.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said 2,812 have perished while attempting to make the crossing, including an estimated 72 in recent days.

EU ministers are thrashing out a plan to redistribute 160,000 refugees around the continent, while Germany has imposed temporary border controls.

Home Secretary Theresa May has dismissed calls for Britain to join the redistribution scheme. The Government has committed to taking in 20,000 Syrians but only from camps in the region.,German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday she did not favour threatening other European Union nations in the migration crisis.

Her remarks come after Germany’s interior minister raised the idea of cutting EU funding to those nations that do not take in refugees.

Ms Merkel said, after meeting Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, that “we must try to restore a European spirit”.

She added: “I don’t think that threats are the right way to an agreement.”

Ms Merkel and Mr Faymann insisted anew that the crisis is an issue for the whole EU.

Mr Faymann said: “Many countries are sticking their heads in the sand and hoping that the problem will pass them by because Germany, Austria and Sweden have signalled a different humanitarian position.”

He added: “Trampling on the right to asylum is not an alternative in our community of values.”

Ms Merkel also rejected the notion that Germany encouraged yet more migrants to set off toward Europe by sending welcoming signals to refugees. She said the images that went around the world were not of her but of ordinary Germans welcoming people to stations in Munich and elsewhere earlier this month.