Over 1,540 migrants perished in Mediterranean in 2018: UN

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Rome, Sep 1 (IANS/AKI) A total 1,549 people have lost their lives in the Mediterranean since the beginning of 2018, compared to 2,434 during the same time in 2017, the UN migration agency has said.

More than 68,000 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea through 29 August, 28,579 of whom landed in Spain, the leading destination this year, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Friday.

This year's arrivals are less than half the 124,015 boat migrants who entered the region during the same period of 2017, the IOM said.

Spain, with 42 per cent of all arrivals to date, continues to receive seaborne migrants in August at a volume that is over six times that of Italy and more than double that of Greece, the agency said.

Italy's arrivals through late August are the lowest recorded at this point of a normally busy summer sailing season in almost five years.

Italian Interior Ministry figures show 19,874 migrants arrived in Italy by sea in 2018 -- 79.95 per cent less than 2017 in the same period, IOM said.

Conflict-wracked Libya remains the main departure point for boat migrants who cross the Mediterranean to Italy, it added.