Irregular Border Crossings in 2023 Were Highest Since 2016 Levels, Frontex Reveals


Irregular border crossings have reached 2016 levels, with a total of 380,000 detections being recorded in 2023, Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency has reported.

The number of irregular border crossings is up by 17 per cent from the figures recorded in 2022, indicating a consistent upward trend over the past three years, reports.

The surge in irregular border crossings was primarily fueled by increased arrivals via the Mediterranean region, with the Central Mediterranean becoming the most active migratory route into the EU.

In 2023, this route alone accounted for two out of every five irregular crossings, making up 41 per cent of the total. The Western Balkans follows closely at 26 per cent and the Eastern Mediterranean at 16 per cent.

Syrians were the main nationality, with over 100,000 detections in 2023, followed by Guineans and Afghans. Together, these three nationalities constituted more than a third of all irregular border crossings.

Moreover, women made up ten per cent of the total number of irregular crossings in 2023, while children accounted for another ten per cent.

The numbers presented today show the evolving challenges we face in managing the EUโ€™s external borders. We remain committed to ensuring the security and integrity of the EUโ€™s borders. Itโ€™s equally crucial to address the humanitarian aspects of migration. These figures represent not just statistics but real people.

Frontex Executive Director Hans Leijtens

Furthermore, one of the key points of the report shows that the Central Mediterranean route experienced a 50 per cent increase in irregular border crossings compared to 2022, totalling around 158,000.

On the other hand, the Eastern Mediterranean route continued its post-pandemic upward trend with around 60,000 detections. The Western African route was the most affected in 2023, with over 40,000 incidents.

In addition, Syrians, Guineans, and Afghans were the most common nationalities, representing 37 per cent of all irregular border crossings. A noticeable increase in African migrants, especially from West Africa, who now represent nearly half (47 per cent) of all detected migrants, has been evident in 2023.

Irregular migration is also on the rise among unaccompanied minors, with the numbers rising by 28 per cent from the previous year, totalling over 20,000. The Channel saw over 62,000 attempts and successful crossings, dropping by 12 per cent compared to 2022 levels.

Currently, there are 2,500 EU border guard officers and additional staff in joint operations at Europeโ€™s borders.


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