By Fatih Erel
Spain witnessed a threefold increase in refugees entering the country using the sea-route this year, when compared to the same period last year, the UN migration agency said Friday.
So far this year, 8,385 refugees have entered Spain by sea, compared to 2,476 during the same period last year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a statement.
At least 121 refugees lost their lives while trying to reach Spain by sea this year, compared to 97 last year, the IOM said.
On Wednesday, some 20 refugees arrived in a dinghy at a beach in Spain’s southwestern Cadiz city, where tourists were swimming and sunbathing.
According to the IOM, 117,795 refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 so far, with almost 83 percent arriving in Italy.
The total number of refugees entering Europe decreased by more than a half this year, when compared to last year, said the agency.
The arrivals to Greece decreased to 12,191 this year, when compared to 161,232 last year, the IOM said.
There have been 3,501 refugee fatalities worldwide in 2017 so far.
At least 280 Somali and Ethiopian refugees were forced off a boat and left to drown in the sea by a human smuggler off Yemen’s coast. Of them 70, mostly teenagers, perished in sea, the IOM said.