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Situation at EU external borders – Lower numbers in Eastern and Western Mediterranean

2021-03-18

The number of illegal border crossings at Europe’s external borders dropped by 40% in the first two months of 2021 compared to a year ago to 12 000*, largely because of a drop in arrivals in Eastern and Western Mediterranean, according to preliminary calculations.

In February, the number of illegal border crossings reached 4 650, about half the figure from the same month of last year.

Western Africa

Some 150 irregular migrants reached the Canary Islands in February, a third of the total from February 2020.

In the first two months of the year, 2 200 irregular migrants arrived on the Canary Islands, twice the total from the same period of 2020.

Nationals from sub-Saharan countries, most claiming to be from Mali and Ivory Coast, accounted for the largest number of arrivals.

Central Mediterranean

The number of migrants crossing the Central Mediterranean nearly doubled in February compared to a year ago to nearly 3 300.

In January and February of this year, the total number of illegal crossings on this route increased by 26% to 4 300.

Nationals of Tunisia and Ivory Coast accounted for the two main nationalities on this migratory route.

Western Mediterranean

There were around 600 detections of illegal border crossings in the Western Mediterranean in February, 52% less than in the same month of 2020.

The total for the first two months of 2021 stood at around 1550, or a third less than in the same period in the previous year.

Algerians accounted for three of every five detections on this route this year, while Moroccans made up most of the remaining arrivals.

Eastern Mediterranean

According to the most recent data, there were around 700 detections of illegal crossings reported in February on the Eastern Mediterranean route, 80% less than a year ago. Most of the detections took place at the land border.

In the January-February period, the total number of detections fell 80% to around 1 600.

Nationals of Syria and Turkey accounted for the largest number of detected migrants.

Western Balkans

There were around 400 detections of illegal border crossings reported so far on the Western Balkan route in February. The final figure will likely be higher.

In the first two months of this year, nearly 2600 migrants were detected at EU’s border with the Western Balkan countries, about half the total from the same period of 2020.

The two main detected nationalities were Syrians and Afghans.

*The figure includes other less active migratory routes not mentioned in this press release. The final figures may be higher due to delayed reporting.

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 attempt to cross the border several times in different locations at the external border.

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