VALLETTA, Malta (AP) — The Latest on European migration issues (all times local):
The European Union’s border agency says the number of migrants entering the bloc without authorization continues to drop.
Frontex said Tuesday that it spotted 4,900 “illegal border crossings” in April, a fall of 19% over the previous month.
In all, about 24,200 crossings were detected in the first four months of 2019, 27% down from in 2018.
More than half the unauthorized migrants were detected on Europe’s eastern borders. One in four were Afghans, while one in five were citizens of Turkey, a candidate for EU membership.
Just over 200 people crossed the central Mediterranean, once Europe’s busiest migrant route.
The EU was plunged into a political crisis in 2015 over how to handle migrant arrivals. Surveys say migration is a key issue in the May 23-26 EU elections.
A Maltese court has fined the captain of the German humanitarian ship that rescued more than 200 migrants because it entered the Mediterranean island nation’s waters last year with a ship that was not properly registered.
Though the court opted Tuesday against jailing the captain, Claus-Peter Reisch, due to the humanitarian backdrop, it did impose a fine of 10,000 euros ($11,300).
Reisch has eight days to decide whether to appeal the fine.
The court also denied a prosecution motion to confiscate the vessel.
The Lifeline has been in a Maltese port since last June, and will be free to leave once any appeal is settled.
Malta agreed to give it safe harbor following a six-day standoff, but only after Italy and other EU nations agreed to take in the migrants.