The UK government has not estimated how many refugees and migrants will try to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe in 2017.

Immigration minister Robert Goodwell made the admission in an answer to a parliamentary question from fellow Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell today (18 October).

"The government is closely monitoring global migration developments, including the number of Mediterranean crossings, working in partnership with the EU and in source and transit countries, to address the mass movements of people attempting to cross the Mediterranean," Goodwell said.

"This includes tackling criminal gangs who facilitate journeys and exploit migrants," he said. "We have not made an estimate of the number of refugees who will attempt to cross the Mediterranean in 2017.

"Determining refugee status is at the discretion of EU Member States and we do not estimate the number of illegal migrants that will be granted refugee status."

EU border agency Frontex estimated one million migrants arrived in Europe in 2015, with 1.82 million detections of "illegal border crossings" reported by EU nations.

"A large number of illegal crossings were made by people who were counted for the first time when arriving on the Greek islands from Turkey and later were counted again when crossing one of EU's external borders in the western Balkans," the organisation said.

Frontex explained the Eastern Mediterranean route accounted for more than 885,000 detections, while the number of migrants arriving via the central Mediterranean route fell by about a 10th to 154 000.

The border agency said a "large part" of the fall was because Syrians had switched to using the Eastern Mediterranean route.

The International Organisation for Migration said 318,816 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in the year to October 16. The number of deaths recorded by the group (3,649) over the period is 532 more compared with the same time last year.

European Council President Donald Tusk said the EU is "slowly turning the corner" on the migration issue, ahead of a meeting of the Council on 20 and 21 October.

"Our actions are best seen on the Eastern Mediterranean route, where we observed a 98% drop in the influx of irregular migrants between September of last year and this year," he said today.

"The European institutions have increased their efforts in helping third countries to take their citizens back.

"By June this year, Frontex had already returned twice as many irregular migrants as in the whole of 2015. Additionally, the EU has recently concluded an agreement with Afghanistan, which allows for more efficient cooperation on migration.

"On the Central Mediterranean route, arrivals are at the same level as in 2014 and 2015. That is why at our October meeting we should focus more particularly on the work done with countries of origin and transit in Africa."

The UK has refused to take part in the EU's refugee relocation scheme, instead promising to take 20,000 refugees from camps near Syria by the end of the current parliament in 2020.

The government later accepted taking an additional 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees already Europe after the House of Lords voted in favour of an amendment tabled by Labour's Lord Alf Dubs.

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