FILE PHOTO: A rescue diver standing on the shores of Lake Van after a boat carrying refugees and migrants sank in eastern Turkey on December 26, 2019. (Photo by DHA/DHA/AFP via Getty Images)

MIGRATION towards Europe increased sharply in May following a record low in illegal border crossings the previous month linked to the coronavirus pandemic, Europe’s border protection agency said.

The total number of detections of such crossings on Europe’s main migratory routes in May reached nearly 4,300 from 900 the previous month, Frontex said.

The April figure was the lowest ever recorded since Frontex began keeping records in 2009.

In total in the first five months of the year there were 31,600 detected border crossings — 6 percent less than in the same period in 2019, Frontex said.

The Eastern Mediterranean was once again the main migration route, the agency said, although the number of migrants was rising at the quickest rate in the Central Mediterranean and the Western Balkans compared to 2019.

In the Eastern Mediterranean, there were 1,250 detections in May — mainly of migrants from Afghanistan.

But the figure between January and May along this route was 12,700 — 28 percent lower than a year ago.

In the Central Mediterranean, migrant numbers in May rose 40 percent from the previous month to reach around 1,000.

In the first five months of the year the number was 5,500 — three times more than in the same period in 2019.

They were mainly from Bangladesh, Ivory Coast and Sudan.

In the Western Balkans, more than 900 migrants were registered in May — 10 times the number in April.

In the first five months of 2020, the total number of migrants on this route increased by 50 percent compared to the same period a year earlier.