A total of 176,100 people attempted to reach the European Union countries by crossing the bloc’s external borders in an unlawful way in the first seven months of this year, accounting for the highest total registered for the January-July period since 2016.
Such estimations have been made in the recent report of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), while the same revealed that, in comparison to last year’s same period, there has been noted a total of 13 per cent increase in the first seven months of this year.
Frontex said that the main migratory route continues to remain the Central Mediterranean route, thus accounting for more than half of all detections at the EU borders. In addition, the agency noted that the number of irregular crossings on this route more than doubled for a period from January until July this year, or up by 115 per cent.
“The Central Mediterranean remains the most active route into the EU this year, with over 89 000 detections reported by national authorities in the first seven months of 2023. This is the highest total on this route for this period since 2017,” the statement reads.
The agency indicated that this route may continue to see a large number of irregular detections due to smugglers that are offering lower prices for migrants departing from Tunisia and Libya amid fierce competition among the criminal groups.
In contrast, other migratory routes experienced a decline, compared to the same period, 2022 figures, ranging from 2 per cent on the Western Mediterranean route up to 29 per cent on the Eastern Mediterranean.
“Unfortunately, the sea crossings remain extremely dangerous. According to IOM data, more than 2 060 people went missing in the Mediterranean between January and July, with the vast majority on the Central Mediterranean route,” the statement reads.
As for the Western Balkan route, it accounted for the second most active route in the first seven months of 2023, with over a total of 52,200 detections. However, it saw a decrease of 26 per cent for a period from January until July this year, in comparison to last year’s same period statistics, mainly due to tighter visa policies.
In addition, Frontex statistics revealed that the number of irregular crossings in the English Channel towards the United Kingdom stood at close to 5,500, thus bringing the total for the first seven months of this year to nearly 27,300. According to the agency, this is roughly in line with the same period of last year.