Migrants on a boat off Sardinia | Photo: ANSA
Migrants on a boat off Sardinia | Photo: ANSA

EU border agency Frontex said on January 8 that the number of irregular entries by migrants into the EU fell to its lowest since 2013 last year. Entries were down 41% compared to 2018 along the central Mediterranean route.

EU border agency Frontex said on January 8 that the number of irregular entries by migrants into the EU fell to its lowest level since 2013 last year. Entries were down 41% compared to 2018 along the central Mediterranean route. 


According to preliminary estimates, entries were down to ''a little over 139,000'', it said, 6% down on 2018 and 92% down on the record set in 2015. Migrant arrivals have fallen steadily since 2015, it said. 

Landings from central Mediterranean route down 41% 

The EU border agency said that in 2019 it registered an estimated 14,000 illegal crossings along the central Mediterranean route, down 41% on 2018. Frontex said Tunisia and Sudan were the countries of origin of the majority of migrants who reached the coast illegally. 

Along the western Mediterranean route, 24,000 irregular entries into the EU were registered last year, down 58% on 2018. 

More pressure on eastern border 

Frontex said pressure has intensified on the Union's eastern border. Over 82,000 irregular migrants in 2019 were registered by the border agency along the eastern Mediterranean route, up 46% compared to the previous year. The peak in arrivals was recorded in September last year, then the flow started to decrease ''in line with the seasonal trend'', said Frontex. In the second half of 2019, irregular entries into the region were at the highest level since the EU-Turkey deal came into force in March 2016, although well below the numbers recorded in 2015 and in the first months of 2016, Frontex said. 

Along the Balkan route, illegal entries more than doubled to 14,000 in 2019 compared to the previous year. Afghanistan and Syria were the countries of origin of over half of undocumented migrants detected on the two eastern routes.

Overall, Afghanistan was the most represented nationality among the totality of migrants who entered the EU last year, Frontex said. The number of Afghan migrants recorded in 2019 went up 167% last year from 2018, the agency said. Frontex also reported an increasing number of women among irregular migrants; 23% of migrants registered in the first 10 months of 2019 were women, up 4% on 2018. ()
 

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