Almost half of all illegal border crossings into the European Union last year were from citizens of non-warring sub-Saharan African nations, the EU’s border agency Frontex has revealed.
In a report published on Tuesday, Frontex wrote it had recorded a “noticeable increase in African migrants, particularly from West Africa, who now represent nearly half (47 percent) of all detected migrants.”
Irregular border crossings into the European Union increased in 2023 by 17 percent over the previous year, with 380,000 recorded cases. This is a conservative estimate and does not account for those who evaded the authorities to enter the bloc.
The figure is the highest since the migration crisis of 2016 and continues the upward trend in recorded cases over the past three years.
The nations from which the most illegal migrants originated were Syria, Guinea, and Afghanistan, comprising 37 percent of all irregular border crossings.
The most traveled migratory route last year was the Central Mediterranean corridor from North Africa to Italy — a total of 157,479 migrants were recorded embarking on this journey, up 49 percent from 2022.
The Western African migratory route — where migrants typically depart from Senegal to the Spanish Canary Islands — experienced the sharpest rise, an increase of 161 percent, as 40,403 migrants landed on the archipelago.
Frontex also noted that the number of migrants claiming to be “unaccompanied minors” had increased by 28 percent compared to the previous year, totaling more than 20,000 minors in 2023.
The Western Balkans route into Hungary experienced less traffic last year with a 31 percent drop; however, 99,068 migrants were still recorded using this path to breach the EU’s external border.
“The numbers presented today show the evolving challenges we face in managing the EU’s external borders,” said Frontex Executive Director Hans Leijtens.
“We remain committed to ensuring the security and integrity of the EU’s borders,” he added.