Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Half of irregular migrants arrive in the EU via the Western Balkans route

Written by Eric Apim on Tuesday, June 14th 2022 à 15:40 | Read 332 times

Irregular migrants mostly use the external borders in the Mediterranean (map: Frontex)
Irregular migrants mostly use the external borders in the Mediterranean (map: Frontex)
MEDITERRANEAN. Frontex recorded 86,420 irregular entries between January and May 2022 at the European Union's external borders. In a statement published on Monday 13 June 2022, the European border and coastguard agency said that this figure represents an 82% increase compared to the first five months of 2021. In May 2022 alone, the increase is 75% with 23,500 entries.
The biggest increases were recorded via the borders of Eastern Europe (+447%) but with only 2,155 refugees.

The more than 5.5 million Ukrainians who have fled their country to one of the 27 Member States are not considered as illegal entries and are therefore not included in these figures.

According to the Agency, "the most active migration routes to the EU were the Western Balkans, the Central Mediterranean and the Eastern Mediterranean". The Western Balkans route alone saw a 167% increase with 40,675 illegal crossings (mainly Syrians and Afghans), half of the total number of recorded entries (see table below).

"This figure is almost three times higher than in the same period last year. The main nationalities present on this route are Syrians and Afghans. Most of those detected had already been in the Western Balkans for some time before seeking to enter the EU," the agency said.

Detections in Cyprus also rose sharply (+213%) year-on-year. They accounted for two out of three illegal crossings on this route.

Arrivals from the Western Mediterranean are decreasing

Illegal crossings into Europe from the Western Mediterranean are the only ones to decrease (table: Frontex)
Illegal crossings into Europe from the Western Mediterranean are the only ones to decrease (table: Frontex)
The only decrease (-17% with 3,965 persons) at the EU's external borders compared to the first five months of 2021 is recorded for crossings from the Western Mediterranean. This mainly concerns Algerians, Moroccans and Sudanese.

Arrivals from non-European Mediterranean countries still constitute the bulk of irregular entries with 75,136 between January and May 2022, compared to the total of 86,420 retained by Frontex over this period.

Frontex was created in 2004 to help EU Member States and Schengen associated countries protect the external borders of the EU's free movement area. In October 2016, its mandate was expanded with a border management role and increased responsibility for combating cross-border crime. Operational 24 hours a day and with 1,500 officers recruited from Member States and deployable at any time within the EU, Frontex then officially became the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, but continues to communicate under its original name.

It is financed by the EU budget and by contributions from associated countries.

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