Between the second and third quarter of 2015, the FRAN indicators of illegal border-crossings between BCPs, illegal stay, and asylum increased exponentially, reaching their highest ever recorded levels since data collection for the respective indicators began. On the other hand, Member States reported fewer detections of illegal border-crossing at BCPs and effective returns to third countries than in Q2 2015.
Compared to one year ago, the relative importance of particular migration routes has clearly shifted. In Q3 2015, most migrants were detected on the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkan routes. Indeed, most migrants who had entered the EU from Turkey were reported for a second time when they passed through the Western Balkans and then crossed the external EU border from Serbia to Croatia.
Illegal border-crossings detected at the EU external borders with Turkey have substantially increased reaching the highest level in FRAN data collection history. The increase was mostly reported from the Eastern Aegean Sea, where Lesbos, Chios and Samos were among the most targeted islands. One year ago, the month of October had already indicated the upcoming winter low in the Eastern Aegean Sea. This year, however, the rise in the number of detections on this route continued unabated.
Also irregular migration on the Western Balkan route has reached its highest level since Frontex started its data collection. After a substantial decline in detections of illegal border-crossing in the Western Balkans in March 2015 (which was mainly caused by fewer Kosovo* migrants heading for Western Europe), irregular migration flow of non-regional nationals (mostly Afghans, Syrians, Pakistanis) reached new highs in October 2015.
Migratory flows in the Central Mediterranean have not reached the levels of one year ago, with the number of detections around 18% lower than in Q3 2014. With the end of the summer, migratory flows across the Central Mediterranean Sea decreased even further. The number of Syrians, for example, represented only around 4% of the level reported back in September 2014. On the other hand, the detections of Nigerian, Somali, Sudanese, Eritrean, Moroccan and Cameroonian migrants were substantially higher than one year ago.
Member States detected fewer facilitators than in the previous quarter. Most conspicuous in this regard is a decrease in arrests of EU nationals from France, Italy and Spain. On the other hand, more nationals of countries along the Western Balkan route were arrested, including Turkish, Greek, Bulgarian and Hungarian citizens.
In spite of the unprecedented level of irregular migration, the numbers of return decisions and effective returns decreased by 3% and 1% since last quarter, respectively. Most significant are the decreases of effectively returned Kosovo* citizens, while the number of returned Iraqis was 29% higher than in the previous quarter.
* This designation is without prejudice to
positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the
Kosovo declaration of independence