The Latest: EU agency collecting criminal migrant data
GENEVA — The Latest on the influx of migrants and asylum-seekers into Europe (all times local):
The European Union’s border protection agency says it has started collecting the personal data of criminal suspects as part of its mission to screen migrants and refugees reaching Greece.
Frontex, recently renamed the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, says the data concerns migrants “suspected of people smuggling, terrorism, and other cross-border crimes.”
Similar programs were launched in Italy and Spain earlier this year, so that data on suspects can be accessed by law enforcement officials across the EU.
The data gathered, Frontex said, is mostly used to fight people smuggling networks by gaining insight into their methods.
Frontex operates on Greek islands facing the Turkish coast and at several points along Greek land borders, and boosted its operations last year to cope with the massive refugee crisis.
According to agency estimates, smuggling networks bringing migrants to Europe made 4 billion euros ($4.2 billion) last year as more than a million migrants and refugees reached the continent.
Police in Croatia say they have caught five migrants who crossed illegally on foot from neighboring Montenegro in the area near the tourist resort of Dubrovnik on the Adriatic coast.
Police said Tuesday they spotted the group of five Iranian men walking along a regional road in the area of Konavle on Monday. They say only two of the men had documents.
The group was issued a two-year Croatia travel ban and will be sent to Montenegro.
The detention marks a rare case of migrants trying to enter European Union member Croatia from Montenegro, apparently seeking new routes after countries along the so-called Balkan corridor beefed up controls.
Around 7,000 migrants have been trapped in Serbia since neighboring EU members Croatia and Hungary closed borders for migrant entry.
The U.N. migration agency says a new survey shows that most migrants who cross the Mediterranean from Libya, and increasingly die trying, actually don’t want to reach Europe.
International Organization for Migration spokesman Joel Millman says human smugglers have forced out many migrants — at times at gunpoint — after extracting ransoms from their families.
An IOM survey of migrants in Libya released Tuesday found 56 percent had intended it to be their final destination. Fewer than 30 percent combined said they wanted to reach the other top destinations: Italy, France and Germany.
Mostly young men from Niger, Egypt and Sudan, nearly 90 percent of respondents said they went to Libya for economic reasons.
IOM says an annual record of 4,164 people have died on the central Mediterranean this year.