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Spain Becomes Top EU Migrant Destination

Migrants intercepted aboard a dinghy off the coast in the Mediterranean Sea, leave a rescue boat upon arrival at the port of Malaga, southern Spain, July 7, 2018.
Spain Becomes Top EU Migrant Destination
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Spain has become the number-one destination for migrants who cross the Mediterranean Sea to get to Europe.

Before, the country most of the migrants tried to reach was Italy.

The latest numbers come from for the European Union's border agency Frontex. They show the number of migrants reaching Spain increased 166 percent from a year ago, to nearly 6,400 in June.

Migrants from Morocco, Guinea and Mali made up the highest number of arrivals in Spain this year.

The number of migrants who used the central Mediterranean path to Italy and Malta this June fell to about 3,000. That is a drop of 87 percent compared to June 2017.

The Italian government recently banned non-governmental organization (NGO) boats from disembarking migrants in Italian ports. The ban is expected to last through the summer.

Demonstrators have protested the decision. They accuse their government of being responsible for the deaths of migrants at sea.

The United Nations says one in seven migrants making the crossing has drowned since Italy banned NGO boats.

Earlier this week, the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms discovered a destroyed migrant boat off the coast of Libya. Rescuers found the bodies of a woman and child. Another woman was found alive.

The group and other NGOs accuse the Libyan coast guard and a ship that was nearby of leaving the migrants to die.

Oscar Camps, who founded Proactiva Open Arms, said the deaths were a direct result of "not allowing NGOs, which rescue lives in the Mediterranean, to work here.”

Earlier this week, five European nations — France, Spain, Germany, Malta and Portugal — agreed to share 450 migrants who had been rescued by Italian government boats. Italy refused to take all of them in. Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini wrote on Twitter: "Firmness and coherence pay off."

He later told reporters that his goal was “to save everyone. To aid everyone. To heal everyone. To feed everyone. But to avoid that everyone comes to Italy.”

In total, the number of so-called irregular migrant crossings into the European Union in the first half of 2018 was more than 60,000. That is almost a 50-percent drop from a year ago.

I'm Susan Shand.

VOA’s Henry Ridgewell reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.


Words in This Story

destination - n. a place to which a person is going or something is being sent

disembark - v. to remove (something or someone) from a ship or airplane

allow - v. to permit

coherencen. the ability to talk or express yourself in a clear way that can be easily understood

irregular - adj. not following the usual rules about what should be done