In the first four
months of the year the number of detections of irregular border crossings at
EU’s external borders reached nearly 80 700, nearly 30% more than a year ago
and the highest total for the January-April period since 2016, according to
The number of irregular
border crossings into the European Union across the Central Mediterranean in the
first four months of 2023 quadrupled from the same period a year earlier, rising
to the highest level since Frontex began collecting data in 2009, even as entries
on all other major routes declined from a year ago.
Detections reported by
national authorities on the Central Mediterranean route increased to almost 42 200
in January-April 2023. Criminal smuggling groups are increasingly using makeshift
metal boats hastily assembled within hours of departure. Oftentimes fishing
boats tow these metal boats closer to the Italian island of Lampedusa, their
This route accounted
for just over half of irregular crossings into the EU so far this year. The
Central Mediterranean drove all of the 28% rise in total detections so far this
year; the rest of the top seven routes saw declines ranging from 7% to 47%.
Organised crime groups
are taking advantage of political volatility in some departure countries to
increase the number of migrants they smuggle across EU borders.
In response, more than
2 400 standing corps officers and Frontex staff are participating in operations
to protect the EU’s external borders, as well as supporting member states and
neighbouring countries facing various challenges at the EU’s external borders.
Although Syrians were
the most frequently detected nationality so far this year, with 17% of the
total on all migratory routes, their numbers have been mostly falling in recent
months in favour of nationals from Sub-Saharan countries. The number of
Ivorians rose eightfold and detentions of citizens of Guinea quintupled. Detections
of Afghan citizens fell by just over half.
period, the Western Balkan route, which passes through countries including
Serbia and Bosnia to the EU member states of Hungary and Croatia, was the
second most active, with over 22 500 detections, down 21% from a year earlier.
Countries in the region have been aligning their
visa policies with the EU and Hungary has reinforced its border control
capacity, contributing to the decline.
Note: The preliminary data
presented in this statement refer to the number of detections of irregular
border-crossing at the external borders of the European Union. The same person
may cross the border several times in different locations at the external