Frontex, the agency charged with safeguarding the integrity of the European Union’s external borders, has informed the public of an ongoing torrent of illegal migration flowing into the bloc, noting that the number of recorded illegal migrant entries increased by nearly 70% in the first four months of this year compared to the same period last year.
In a press release published earlier this month, Frontex, also known as the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, said that a total of 57,800 gross illegal entries to the European Union had been recorded between January and April of this year, representing an increase of 69% year over year.
In its report, Frontex noted that genuine refugees fleeing Ukraine and entering the European Union through its border crossing points were not included in the number of illegal entries recorded, adding that—according to the agency’s latest data—over 5.9 million people have entered the bloc’s territory from Ukraine and Moldova following the onset of the Russia-Ukraine war in February.
By far, the most active migratory route this year—traveled mainly by Syrian and Afghan nationals—has been the Western Balkan route, which recorded close to half of all illegal border entries, at 27,172, representing an uptick of 130% from the first four months of 2021.
The next most traveled migration corridor was the Eastern Mediterranean route—the small stretch of sea that lies between the coastlines of Turkey and Greece—which witnessed a total of 9,109 illegal entries, an increase of 86% from the previous year. The small island country of Cyprus accounted for more than half of the detected illegal migrant arrivals, most of whom originated from Syria, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Asylum seekers now comprise 5% of Cyprus’s population, according to Loizos Michael, the country’s interior ministry.
Additionally, Frontex officials recorded 9,300 illegal entries on the Central Mediterranean route, the stretch of sea between Italy and North Africa, in the same period, roughly 4% more than were registered between January and April of last year. The nationalities most commonly found traveling along this transit zone were Egyptians, Bangladeshi, and Tunisians.
Lastly, the border agents stationed along the Eastern land border route, a 6000-kilometer-long land border between the eastern EU member states—Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, and Romania—and Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, the Russian Federation, recorded 1,683 illegal entries, an increase of more than 400%.
Presently, just 2,000 Frontex border agents are positioned across the entirety of the European Union’s massive external border, as well as in Moldova, Serbia, Montenegro, and Moldova.
The news comes after Frontex, under former director Fabrice Leggeri, who earlier this month resigned over accusations of tolerating so-called ‘illegal pushbacks,’ reported that some 200,000 illegal migrants entered the bloc in 2021, an increase of 57% compared to 2020—and the highest recorded figure since 2017.