FRONTEX: Illegal Migratory Flow in EU Surpassed Pre-Pandemic Levels in 2021

Illegal border crossings at the European Union external borders soared in 2021, as almost 200,000 detections were registered, marking the highest rate of the practice since 2017.

According to data issued by FRONTEX, the EU border agency, 36 per cent more illegal passages were noted compared to 2019 and 57 per cent more than in 2020. This indicates that factors other than restrictions relaxations on a global scale are the cause of migration rates, reports.

Notable mentions for the escalating migration situation include the situation at the borders to Belarus, in addition to safety conflicts nearby as Syrians, Tunisians, Moroccans, Algerians, and Afghans made up for the most reported nationalities for illegal border crossing for 2021.

Like in 2020, women continued to make up for less than one in ten arrivals in 2021, marking a noticeable drop in their share compared to pre-pandemic levels. On the other hand, in the remaining groups of vulnerable categories, the reported share of minors remained almost unchanged, the same as one of the unaccompanied minors.

Although the Central Mediterranean route had already been the most attacked route from illegal migratory activities, the route continued being the most frequented with a total of 65,362 detections in more arrivals from Libyan, Tunisian, and Turkish shores and an 83 per cent increase compared to the last year.

Tunisia citizens made up for the largest number of migrants in 2021, but at the same time, rates of Egyptian migrants increased by seven times compared to 2020. Along with Bangladeshi migrants, Egyptians were among the key nationalities in the Central Mediterranean.

The second most affected route includes the Western Balkan route with 60,540 illegal border crossings and a 125 per cent surge since 2020. The route showed an increasing trend until September and then a slight decrease in the last three months.

Other affected borders include the Western Mediterranean route, which reported about 18,000 arrivals in 2021, roughly the same as in the last year. The majority of the migrants were of Algerian nationality, followed by Moroccans.

Furthermore, the Western African Route also revealed similar rates to 2020, as 22,500 detections were reported – with a usual seasonal peak happening in September from top nationalities such as Moroccan and various Wester African nations. However, compared to 2020, this route experienced a 2.3 per cent decrease.

However, the situation at Eastern Land Border witnessed whole different stats from 2021 as the rates tenfold compared to 2020. There were 8,000 illegal border-crossings for the year.

About one in ten of all detected illegal borders crossings in 2021 were registered on the Eastern Mediterranean route, where the migration rates were close to the previous year.

While irregular migratory cases continue to drop in Greece, Cyprus witnessed a significant increase in the migratory flow with 10,400 in total in 2021, more than double (123 per cent) compared to the corresponding period in 2020 with an increased share of Africans among the detected migrants.

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