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Migrants favour other EU Med states over Cyprus

The number of migrants and refugees entering Cyprus by sea is low compared to the rest of the European countries in the Mediterranean, according to figures published by the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

In the first half of this year there were 73,189 arrivals of migrants through the sea in the region and 1,808 deaths of migrants and refugees dying during the course of their journey were recorded.

According to IOM data, 273 migrants and refugees entered Cyprus between January 1 and April 11 this year, while by June 11, some 7,699 had entered Greece. At the same time, 37 deaths were recorded during Mediterranean Sea crossings, in which the international organisation includes Greece and Cyprus.

By comparison, between January 1 and June 11, 2016, a total of 345 migrants and refugees entered Cyprus, and 157,250 entered Greece, while 376 deaths were recorded in the eastern Mediterranean.

Last year, the number of migrants and refugees who entered the sea route in southern European countries by June 11 reached 211,433 and the deaths recorded numbered 2,899.

Italy has almost 85% of the influx of migrants and refugees, with the remainder being shared between Greece, Cyprus and Spain, according to an IOM announcement.

IOM spokesman in Rome, Flavio Di Giacomo, noted that since last Friday more than 3,000 migrants and refugees had been rescued between Europe and the North African coast, but were not reflected by the official figures provided by the Italian authorities because not all of them had arrived at an official port.

He added that last weekend, 2,942 migrants were rescued in the joint efforts of NGOs and Italian and international military ships.

He also said that on Monday, a Swedish ship under the Operation Triton rescued 356 immigrants from three boats and transported them to Catania, an Italian city on the east coast of Sicily facing the Ionian Sea. One of the three boats had been partially sunk and 79 people were rescued from it, but at least 61 are still missing.

The bodies of eight dead people–two men and six women- believed to have been travelling on the same boat have been retrieved.

Operation Triton is a border security operation conducted by Frontex, the European Union’s border security agency. The operation, under Italian control, began on  November 1, 2014 and involves voluntary contributions from 15 other European nations (both EU member states and non-members).

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