Asylum applications are once again rising in Europe, with the number of new applications in June being three times higher than the month before.
The EU’s European Asylum Support Office (EASO) said that it recorded 28,039 first-time asylum applications in June, three times as many as in May. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHR) noted the same trend, and said it recorded 10,517 crossings in the Mediterranean sea in July.
The European Union’s border agency, Frontex, is also said to have reported an increase in illegal migrant activity in July, up a third since the month before, Der Spiegel reports.
According to the EASO, the wave of numbers could be explained by the fact that many EU member states have relaxed their strict coronavirus quarantine measures and noted that overall asylum applications this year have seen a decline of 37 per cent compared to 2019.
While countries like Greece have seen a significant decline in the number of illegal migrants since the coronavirus outbreak, Italy has seen a substantial rise in the last several weeks with the island of Lampedusa being overwhelmed.
Italian Island of Lampedusa Runs out of Room to Quarantine Arriving Migrants https://t.co/aS0zN6NWF5
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Earlier this month, the mayor of Lampedusa, Toto’ Martello, said the island had completely run out of space to house migrants and questioned why the government had not declared a state of emergency.
As new migrants arrive, so too have concerns that they could be infected with COVID-19 and could spread the virus, causing a fresh wave of infections.
Last month, migrants escaped from a facility under coronavirus quarantine in the town of Siculiana in Sicily. Local police were told to simply ask them politely to return to the centre — instructions that were largely ignored.
Just a short time later in northern Italy, over 130 migrants who had been relocated from the south tested positive for coronavirus in a reception facility in the city of Treviso.