Over 71,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean sea between January 1st and June 5th of this year, and another 1,650 have died along their journey, representing a decrease of more than 50 percent over figures from the same period last year, according to new data published Tuesday by the United Nations Migration Agency.
The steep drop-off is likely due in part to Europe's changing political landscape, which has become more legally hostile to asylum-seekers after the migration crisis' apex in the fall of 2015.
Last spring, for example, the European Union devised a plan to effectively block migrants from traveling through the continent, shutting down the Balkan migrant path through countries like Macedonia, Croatia, and Slovenia. Turkey, too, closed its southern border with Syria, stranding tens of thousands of asylum seekers fleeing the country's civil war.
Yet assuming this year's migration trends hold through December, the numbers still pale in comparison to those from the same period last year, when 360,000 migrants arrived in Europe (primarily Italy and Greece), and in 2015, when over one million refugees and migrants crossed the Mediterranean.