In Q4 2011 most indicators monitored within the Frontex Risk Analysis Network (FRAN) increased compared to a year ago. For ex-ample, detections of illegal stay, clandestine entries and refusals of entry were all reported in greater numbers than during the same period in 2010. Moreover, more applications for international protection were submitted and more false-document users were detected than in any other quarter since data exchange for these indicators began. Indeed, detections of facilitators of irregular migration was the only instance of a decrease compared to the previous year, with detections remaining at one of the lowest levels ever.
Throughout most of 2011, detections of illegal border-crossings into the EU were dominated by disparate events on the Eastern and Central Mediterranean routes. How-ever, following a sharp decline in detections on the Central Mediterranean route, during the final quarter of the year nearly 75% of detections in the EU were reported from the Eastern Mediterranean route. During 2011 the Western Mediterranean and Western Balkan routes steadily became increasingly important compared to the year before. For example in Q4 2011 both routes reported double the number of detections than a year previously, and the Western Mediterranean route became the second most common point of entry at the EU level.
Overall, the migrants most commonly detected illegally crossing the EU border came from Afghanistan, followed by Pakistanis, the detections of whom doubled compared to a year previously. Other increases within the top ten nationalities were reported for migrants from Bangladesh and Congo. In contrast the largest decrease was the previously-reported decline in detections of Albanian nationals (-75%) following visa liberalisation granted to this nationality in December 2010.
In previous years, detections on the Eastern Mediterranean route decreased going into the final quarter of the year, probably due to deteriorating weather conditions. In contrast, in 2011 detections of illegal border-crossing on the Eastern Mediterranean route remained almost constant between the third and final quarters of the year, resulting in the first re-corded example of a sustained peak of detections at this time of year. This was due to an unexpected increase in detections at the Greek land border with Turkey, particularly in October. Consistent with the EU level, at this location the most commonly detected migrants were from Afghanistan and, increasingly, Pakistan.
As Greece is a Schengen exclave and rarely a final destination for irregular migrants, it was possible to detect secondary movements of the same nationalities as they attempted re-entry to the main body of the Schengen area. In Q4 2011 these increasingly included detections (1) of illegal border-crossing throughout the Western Balkans particularly via Serbia (2) of migrants arriving on boats to the south-ern Italian region of Apulia – mostly those who had departed from either Greece or Tur-key, and (3) of large numbers of false-document users travelling on flights from Greek airports to many major EU airports. Many of the latter applied for international protection upon arrival.
Irregular migration in the Central Mediterranean fluctuated massively both in terms of size and composition throughout 2011, largely dependent on the political and civil unrest across North Africa, particularly in Tunisia and Libya. However, in Q4 2011 there was a 92% reduction compared to the peak in Q2 2011. In fact during the current reporting period, detections on this route were broadly comparable with the same period a year previously, thus reflecting increasing stability across the region, at least for the time being.
Irregular migration pressure on the West-ern Mediterranean route steadily increased throughout 2011, with the exception of a small dip at the end of the year probably due to seasonal weather conditions; nevertheless the Q4 figure was still some 80% higher than during the same period in 2010. The most common migrants were of unknown nationality, most probably coming from sub-Saharan countries, followed by migrants local to the region, from Algeria and Morocco, many of whom were detected attempting entry to the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.
The number of claims for international protection rose steadily in every successive quarter of 2011. At the end of the year in Q4 2011 there were more than 70 000 applications for asylum made in the whole EU, which is an increase of 25% compared to Q4 2010 and the highest number of applications received in a single quarter since data exchange began in early 2008. Increased numbers of asylum claims at the EU level were submitted by nationalities that were also increasingly detected at the external border (Afghanistan, Pakistan) as well as those absent from many irregular migration indicators (Syria).Detections of false-document (forged and counterfeit) users also increased steadily during 2011. In Q4 2011 the number of migrants detected using false documents was the highest since data exchange began. There were in-creased numbers of Albanian migrants found travelling between the Schengen area and non-Schengen EU countries.