December 9, 2016 / 3:04 PM / 9 months ago

Italian coastguard saves 66 migrants in Greek Aegean waters

ROME, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Italy’s coastguard rescued 34 men, 14 women and 18 minors from a rubber boat in the Aegean Sea on Friday, it said. The migrants said they were from Syria.

Having picked them up in Greek waters after a request for help from European Union border agency Frontex, the coastguard will take them to the Greek island of Chios, a spokesman said.

The number of migrants arriving on Greek islands has dropped sharply since March when Turkey agreed with the EU to prevent people making the sea crossing, in return for financial and diplomatic incentives.

Some 1,950 people were detected arriving in November, Frontex said in a statement on Friday, calling that: “just a fraction of the figures from a year ago”.

Total arrivals for 2016 have reached nearly 173,200, but most of them entered the country between January and March, Frontex said.

More than 173,000 people have arrived in Italy by boat over the course of the year, mainly from Libya, breaking a previous record.

Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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