The Latest: Migrants reaching Spain more than double in 2018

VIENNA (AP) — The Latest on the flow of migrants into Europe (all times local):

12:15 p.m.

The European Union’s border agency says the number of migrants crossing the western Mediterranean Sea into Spain more than doubled in the first eight months of this year, compared with the same period in 2017.

Frontex said in a statement Friday that from January to August it recorded “some 29,600 irregular border crossings on the western Mediterranean route, more than double the figure from a year ago.” Some 6,500 people reached Spain last month, also more than double the figure for August 2017.

Most people were from Morocco, Guinea and Mali.

Frontex said that, more broadly, the number of people crossing the entire Mediterranean fell by 40 percent from last year to around 86,500.

This was due to a sharp drop in people leaving strife-torn Libya for Italy, a main migrant route to Europe in recent years.

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11:15 a.m.

Austria’s interior minister says the European Union’s migration commissioner is prematurely “throwing in the towel” on the idea of setting up centers for migrants in North Africa.

EU Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos was quoted in Austria’s Die Presse newspaper Thursday as saying the idea of slowing the flow of migrants to Europe by establishing holding centers was “practically impossible.”

Avramopoulos says “no country in this part of the Mediterranean has accepted the establishment of such a platform to date.”

Austrian Interior Minister Herbert Kickl on Friday, before meeting with his EU counterparts and Avramopoulos, called the comments a “bad signal,” saying the message should be “let’s try to take on this hard task.”

He says: “The idea is roughly two months old and … the EU commissioner’s already throwing in the towel.”

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