Illegal migration in the European Union has been on the rise during the first quarter of the year, almost reaching 2016 levels, which followed the most notable migration crisis of the decade – the one of 2015 when 1.3 million people reached the EU illegally, Frontex has revealed.
According to a press release issued by the EU’s Border and Coast Guard Agency, the number of illegal border crossings has reached 40,300, which is 57 per cent more than in the previous year, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
More specifically, 11,700 non-EU citizens reached the bloc’s external borders during March – 29 per cent more than in the corresponding time in 2021. In response to the situation, Frontex has deployed 2,100 border guards.
In addition, Eastern Land Border, which previously had fallen in silence, made a robust comeback this month, as it saw the largest increase among all migratory routes – 714 per cent more than in the previous month.
“This was due to some Ukrainian citizens seeking to cross the border illegally between border crossing points, although a vast majority of Ukrainians arrived legally through regular border crossing points. The total number of detections rose seven-fold to over 950,” the press release issued by Frontex reads.
Furthermore, the number of detections in March alone rose to over 600, marking a 12-fold increase.
The other route that was highly affected by such illegal activities in the first quarter was the Easter Mediterranean – 7,005 of those, the majority of which were driven by detections of illegal border crossings in Cyprus. More specifically, 73 per cent of all detections were recorded in Cyprus, which is 302 per cent or 5,124 more than in the previous year. In the month of March, the total number of migrants detected also doubled to nearly 3,250, with the main nationalities detected being Nigerians and Congolese.
The Channel, which implies the border between France and the United Kingdom, has also seen a significant increase in the number of irregular migrants – 8,900, which is 190 per cent more than in the first quarter of the previous year.
In addition, the number of illegal border crossings recorded in the Western Balkans was 18,300 – 115 per cent more than in the same time last year, while in March alone, 6,650 detections were registered. The most common arrivals’ countries of origin were Syria and Afghanistan.
On the other hand, although the rates remain high, the Western African route saw the least illegal activity during the first three months of 2021. According to Frontex, 5,850 detections were registered, which is 70 per cent higher than in the previous quarter. In March, such rates fell by two-thirds compared to a year ago, as 360 detections were recorded, mainly from countries like Morocco and Guinea.