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Migrant Arrivals In Europe By Sea Decline, But Death Toll Rises

A migrant is rescued from the Mediterranean Sea some 20 nautical miles north of Libya on October 3.

International organizations say the number of migrants arriving in the European Union by sea declined by nearly two-thirds last year but that the death toll in the Mediterranean rose to a record 5,079.

The EU border agency Frontex said in a report published on January 6 that the total number of migrants reaching Europe by sea declined to 364,000 in 2016, down from more than 1 million the previous year.

Frontex attributed much of the drop to a deal between the EU and Turkey that led to tighter border control by Turkish officials and cut the number of arrivals on the Greek islands by 79 percent.

It said, however, that the number of arrivals from North Africa to Italy rose by about 20 percent to a record 182,500. The increase reflected the rising migratory pressures mainly from West Africa, Frontex said.

Meanwhile, the UN-affiliated International Organization for Migration (IOM) said the number of fatalities and missing migrants in the Mediterranean rose 34 percent to at least 5,079 last year. It had previously said 2016 was the deadliest year for migration in the Mediterranean.

IOM said the rise was primarily due to improved research methods but that some migrant routes have also grown more deadly.

Based on reporting by dpa and Reuters