Illegal Immigrants to EU More Than Double in 2014

Illegal Immigrants to EU More Than Double in 2014Illegal Immigrants to EU More Than Double in 2014

Close to 276,000 illegal immigrants entered the European Union last year, more than double in 2013, the bloc’s commissioner for migration and home affairs, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said Tuesday.

“In 2014, 276,000 immigrants arrived in the EU, representing an increase of 138 percent compared to the previous year,” he noted, AFP reported.

He said some 207,000 of the arrivals landed on European shores via the Mediterranean Sea, where smugglers are now packing ships with hundreds of people fleeing Syria, other parts of the Middle East and Africa, then abandoning them on the water.

“Smugglers are finding new routes to Europe and are employing new methods in order to exploit desperate people who are trying to escape conflict and war,” Avramopoulos said in a speech. Since September, more than 12 cargo ships smuggling people have arrived in Europe, mainly Italy. In the past, traffickers used small boats.

“Better coordination and a more comprehensive approach will help address the roots of the current flows of irregular immigrants and of smuggling,” he added.

He said EU member states have offered more than 36,000 places for Syrian refugees -- some 3.5 million have already fled to neighboring states -- but Brussels must still “increase the number of refugees resettled in EU countries.”