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Irregular Border Crossings in the EU Hit 2016 Levels, Frontex Reports

Irregular border crossings in the European Union (EU) have surged to levels last seen in 2016, with a total of 380,000 detections recorded in 2023, marking a 17% increase from 2022, according to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex. The Central Mediterranean route emerged as the most active migratory route, constituting 41% of all irregular crossings, followed by the Western Balkans at 26% and the Eastern Mediterranean at 16%. Syrians, Guineans, and Afghans accounted for over a third of all irregular border crossings, totaling more than 100,000 detections for Syrians alone.

Irregular Border Crossings in the EU Hit 2016 Levels, Frontex Reports

Frontex Executive Director Hans Leijtens highlighted the evolving challenges in managing the EU's external borders, emphasizing the need to balance security and integrity with addressing the humanitarian aspects of migration. The report revealed that 10% of irregular border crossings in 2023 were by women, and another 10% were children.


The Central Mediterranean route experienced a significant 50% increase in irregular border crossings compared to 2022, reaching around 158,000 incidents. The Eastern Mediterranean route continued its post-pandemic upward trend with approximately 60,000 detections. The Western African route was notably impacted in 2023, with over 40,000 incidents. Unaccompanied minors contributed to the rising trend in irregular migration, with a 28% increase from the previous year, totaling over 20,000 cases.

Despite a 12% drop in attempts and successful crossings, the Channel saw over 62,000 incidents in 2023. Currently, there are 2,500 EU border guard officers and additional staff engaged in joint operations at Europe's borders. Frontex remains committed to addressing the evolving challenges posed by irregular border crossings while ensuring the security and humanitarian aspects of migration are adequately managed.


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