In the near-half decade since Europe’s migrant crisis began, illegal immigrants from across the Middle East and Africa have used several different geographic circuits to reach the EU.
Frontex, the EU’s border agency, on February 13 released data for January which showed that more half of the illegal border crossings into the European Union came via the so-called western Mediterranean route that begins in Morocco and Algeria before terminating in Spain.
In January, the number of illegal border crossings detected on Europe’s main migratory routes decreased by one third compared to the previous month, totalling 6,660 registered cases. The number of migrants who have illegally crossed over since January 2018 has dropped by one fifth.
Over the same period, the number of human trafficking or smuggling cases on the western Mediterranean route decreased by 18% from the previous month to nearly 3,780. This is, however, more than double the number that was registered in January 2018. According to Frontex, citizens from Guinea and Morocco accounted for the largest number of migrants on the route.
The number of immigrants who took the eastern Mediterranean route in January fell by 44% from the previous month to about 2,540, although the figure was 10% higher than the previous year. Afghan nationals, mainly arriving overland through Turkey, accounted for more than half of the illegal migrants on this route.
The Central Mediterranean route showed the largest drop, with approximately 150 migrants on the route, 73% lower than in December and a 96% drop from January 2018. Bangladeshi and Tunisian nationals made up the majority those who crossed into Italy, whose government has recently taken a hard stance against accepting migrants.
More than 300 illegal border crossings were detected in the Western Balkans migrants arrive at Malaga’s port after been rescued by Spanish Salvamento Maritimo, in Malaga, Andalusia, Spain in January, roughly half the number registered during the previous month and 42% less than in January 2018. Once again, Afghans accounted for most of those who attempted to enter Europe through the former Yugoslav republics.