News Release

Arrival of migrants in February: surge in Italy, drop in Greece


In February, there were more than 10 900 detections of illegal border crossings on the three main migratory routes into the EU. This is less than a tenth of the figure from the same month of last year, although 46% higher than in January because of an increased activity in the Central Mediterranean.

Central Mediterranean

Italy continued to face high migratory pressure despite difficult weather conditions in the Central Mediterranean. In February, the number of migrants reaching the Italian shores more than doubled from a year ago to nearly 9000. The total for the first two months of 2017 stood at 13 440.

Nationals of Guinea and Bangladesh were the top two nationalities among the migrants arriving in Italy in February. While most migrants from African countries make their way to Libya by land, Bangladeshi migrants fly to Libya, especially Tripoli, through the Middle East and enter the country on a Libyan work visa. They then pay people smugglers to assist them to get to Libyan coast.

Eastern Mediterranean

The number of migrants arriving on the Greek islands in the Eastern Aegean fell to slightly more than 1 000 in February, down a third from the previous month and a small fraction of the figure recorded a year ago. In the first two months of the year, the total reached slightly more than 2 500.

A similar trend was seen at land borders on the Eastern Mediterranean route, where 180 detections of illegal crossings were detected in February.

Last month, nationals of Syria, Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo accounted for the majority of detections on the Eastern Mediterranean route.

Western Balkans

There were fewer than 1000 detections of illegal border-crossings in the Western Balkans in February, 36% fewer than the previous month and less than 3% of the figure from February 2016. Afghans and Pakistanis accounted for the largest number of migrants on this route.


The data presented in this statement refer to the number of detections of illegal border-crossing at the external borders of the European Union. The same person may attempt to cross the border illegally several times in different locations at the external border.

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