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More migrants reaching Europe through Spain, says EU border agency chief

Ministry of Defence handout photo dated 28/10/15 of Royal Navy crew assisting a boat of migrants in the Mediterranean, as the captain of a British survey ship that saved thousands of men, women and children from the Mediterranean has called the remarkable deployment a first for the Royal Navy. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday January 3, 2017. See PA story RESCUE Enterprise. Photo credit should read: Luron Wright/MOD Crown copyright/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

The number of migrants arriving in Europe through Spain has more than doubled this year, the head of the European Union's border agency said.

Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri said "we have registered almost 14,000 arrivals in Spain, arriving from Morocco, from the western part of the Maghreb".

Mr Leggeri said it "means that the figures were multiplied by more than 2.5 this year" compared with the same January-August period last year.

He said this included sea and land arrivals, via Spain's enclaves in northern Africa - Ceuta and Melilla - and that most migrants were Moroccan citizens.

He said arrivals to Europe from Libya through the central Mediterranean have dropped but could not say whether the rise in Spain was due to tougher migrant controls around Libya.

"Frontex has no indication of such displacement," he said.

Despite the increase, the Frontex chief said the route through Spain remains only the third most popular transit route for migrants.

The route via Libya across the Mediterranean to Italy remains the busiest, with more than 100,000 people having entered Europe that way so far this year.

The second most popular route for migrants is crossing from Turkey into Greece, which has seen about 20,000 people so far this year.

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