More than 500,000 migrants cross EU borders this year


Refugees go on hunger strike on Hungarian-Serbian border

More than half a million migrants arrived in Europe in the first eight months of the year, official figures show.

The number passed 500,000 after a record 156,000 people crossed EU borders in August.

The data, published by the 28-nation bloc's external borders agency Frontex, means migrants have arrived at a rate of more than 2,000 every day. By contrast, there were 280,000 detections at borders in the whole of last year.

A number of EU countries are responding to an unprecedented wave of migrants and refugees arriving from North Africa and the Middle East.

Frontex said Greek islands detected the largest number of migrants last month, with 88,000 - an eleven-fold rise compared to the same month last year.

Nearly three-quarters of the people arriving from Turkey were Syrians.

Frontex executive director Fabrice Leggeri said: "The Greek islands continue to be under an intense migratory pressure."

The figures were disclosed as Hungary closed a major border crossing and introduced new laws to clampdown on illegal entry into the country.

The number of detections at the Hungary-Serbia border jumped 20-fold to more than 52,000, bringing the total so far this year to more than 155,000.

Last week, figures showed that a record 504,210 people had lodged asylum claims in the EU so far this year.

Meanwhile, separate data published today showed the number of migrants losing their lives in the Mediterranean continues to rise.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said 2,812 have perished while attempting to make the crossing, including an estimated 72 in recent days.

EU ministers are thrashing out a plan to redistribute 160,000 refugees around the continent, while Germany has imposed temporary border controls.

Home Secretary Theresa May has dismissed calls for Britain to join the redistribution scheme. The Government has committed to taking in 20,000 Syrians but only from camps in the region.

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