In comparison with the first quarter of 2014, the second quarter saw an increase in all of the indicators of irregular migration and asylum exchanged under the Frontex Risk Analysis Network (FRAN). A factor in this general trend was the annually recurring cycle of seasonal variation, whereby the summer months of each year are usually marked by increased pressure at the external borders.
However, the increase in irregular migration was far above what would usually be expected based on seasonal fluctuations at this time of the year. In the second quarter of 2014, the number of illegal border-crossings reported by the Member States was at its highest level since FRAN data collection began in 2007. In fact, compared to the second quarter of 2013, detections at the external borders increased by more than 170%.
As many as 90% of the irregular migrants were reported from the sea border of the EU. Compared to one year ago, Italy reported a more than eightfold increase in detections of illegal border-crossing, while the number in Greece more than doubled. Detections in Spain increased by 50%, even though from a significantly lower base.
Overall, detections reported from the Italian sea border represented almost three-quarters of all detected illegal border-crossings in Q2 2014 and for the second consecutive quarter Eritreans were the most reported nationality, representing around a third of all detections at this border section.
The intensified illegal migration by sea in the Central Mediterranean was not only related to improved weather conditions, but also to the presence of a large number of sub-Saharan Africans in the coastal areas of Libya. The unstable situation in Libya has led to in-creased violence against immigrants, which acts as a push factor playing into the hands of facilitators.
Moreover, Italy continued its maritime operation Mare Nostrum in the waters of the Sicily Channel between Italy and Libya. It was launched in October 2013 to controlling mi-grant flows through increased surveillance and search-and-rescue activities.
Detections of Syrians, i.e. the second most reported nationality on this route, increased sevenfold in the Central Mediterranean in Q2 2014 compared to the previous quarter. The situation of Syrians seeking refuge in Egypt from the ongoing violent conflict in their home country also remained difficult. Due to hard economic and political conditions in the country Syrians continued to leave Egypt in massive numbers, mostly routing through Libya hoping to find an opportunity to reach Italy by boat.
The number of irregular migrants detected on the Eastern Mediterranean route in Q2 2014 was almost twice as high as in Q2 2013 and in the previous quarter. A range of operational activities has significantly reduced detections at the Greek and Bulgarian land borders to Turkey; although, in the long term, a displacement of the flow of irregular mi-grants to the Aegean Sea was observed.
The highest number of detections of illegal border-crossing at land borders in Q2 2014 was reported by Hungary, although this number was two-thirds lower than in Q2 2013 and 15% lower than in Q1 2014. Afghans remained the most reported nationality at this border section, suggesting sustained secondary movements from Greece through the Western Balkan region to Hungary and further on to other Member States, in spite of increased operational activities at the EU’s external border with Turkey.
As it happened in the past, large groups of migrants tried to cross to Ceuta and Melilla illegally. The attempts to cross the Spanish land border continued in Q2, but fewer mi-grants were successful in crossing due to the reinforcement of the fence. The number of persons detected for illegal crossings into Ceuta or Melilla decreased by 40% compared to last quarter, reaching a similar level as in Q2 2013. In contrast, detections at the West-ern Mediterranean sea border rose by 50%. Several indicators point to a continued in-crease in migration along this route.
In the second quarter of 2014, the number of asylum seekers exceeded 100 000 applications and reached the largest number since FRAN data collection began. Of all FRAN indicators, the number of asylum applications showed the most regular long-term upward trend. The annual total asylum numbers have increased by almost a fifth every year since 2010. While in 2011, a larger pro-portion of asylum seekers migrated due to the bad economic situation in their home countries, in 2014 the share of those escaping violence and armed conflict grew. In this reporting period, the number of asylum applications was 20% higher than during the previous quarter of 2014 and a third higher than in Q2 2013.
Asylum applications were increasingly concentrated in the top destination countries. Since 2010, the share of applications for international protection submitted in the cur-rent top three asylum destinations (Germany, Sweden and Italy) has grown from 37% to around 60% of the total number reported to the FRAN In general, Syrian refugees continued to be the number one nationality seeking inter-national protection in the EU, representing 20% of all asylum applications submitted in Q1 2014. Two-thirds of Syrian asylum seekers were reported from Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.
on the other hand, were the fastest growing nationality of asylum seekers in
Europe, as applications reported by Member States have increased by 270% since
the previous quarter and more than sixfold since Q2 2013.