GENEVA - Record numbers of people have attempted to reach the European Union (EU) via illegal Mediterranean Sea routes in the first quarter of this year.

This also translates to a record number of deaths since 2017, International Organisation for Migration (IOM) figures indicate. There are three Mediterranean Sea routes into Europe.

The central Mediterranean is most often used by those crossing from North Africa into Italy.

Migrants travel from the shores of Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Algeria. According to IOM, Tunisia is the latest frontier, contributing about 60% of those crossing into Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.

The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) this week said the central route was the most popular one, accounting for 28 000 of all arrivals via the sea.

It said the reason was the lack of strong institutions in the countries from where they were coming.