Number of Boat Migrants in Italy Halved, Asylum Applications in Germany Declining
Fewer migrants reach Italy via the Mediterranean. There have been fewer than 12,000 since the beginning of 2019, compared to twice as many in 2018. The main reason for the decline is an agreement.
The number of migrants who reach Italy by sea has halved this year compared to 2018. Compared to 2017, there was even a decline of almost 90 percent, according to statistics published on Wednesday by the Italian Ministry of the Interior.
According to the stats, 11,439 migrants landed on the Italian coasts by December 24, 2019. In the same period last year, the number was 23,210, the previous year even 118,914. Most of the migrants this year (2654) came from Tunisia, followed by Pakistan, with 1180 and the Ivory Coast, with 1135 arrivals.
The main reason for the significant decline in migration to Italy is a controversial agreement that the then Social Democratic government concluded with Libya in 2017. According to media reports, the memorandum was accompanied by informal agreements with various militias in the civil war country. The aim was to prevent migrants from Libya from going out to sea.
After the change of government in 2018, the head of the right-wing Lega, Matteo Salvini, became Minister of the Interior. He pursued a policy of “closed ports” against lifeboats in the Mediterranean. The center-left government, which has been in office since September of this year, is taking a more moderate course towards aid organizations and letting rescue ships enter. However, most of the migrants who reach the country’s coasts now come to Italy with their own boats or tugs.
In addition to boat refugees in Italy, the number of asylum seekers in Germany is also declining.
From January to November, 133,270 people applied for asylum in Germany for the first time, according to figures from the statistics agency Eurostat, which is a decrease compared to the same period the previous year of 13 percent.
In 2018 the decrease was 16 percent. In terms of the EU-wide figures from January to September, Germany continues to be the primary destination for asylum seekers in the EU. However, the proportion fell further to 23 percent – 111,015 applicants – after 28 percent in 2018 and 31 percent in 2017.
Nonetheless, the number of first-time asylum seekers across Europe rose by 8.6 percent in the period up to September, from 435,610 to 473,215. This is a vital stat as so far, the number had fallen every year after an apogee of 1.2 million in 2015.
France and Spain, in particular, see increased numbers of asylum seekers. The most common countries of origin remain Syria, Afghanistan, and Venezuela.