In the first eleven months of this year, 184,000 people illegally crossed the European Union’s borders, which is 60 percent more than in the same period last year. Frontex, the EU border agency, reported the troubling data in its regular report on border conditions.
The agency stressed that the situation is especially tense at the eastern border of the EU, which has been crossed by 8,000 migrants this year. That is 13 times more than in the previous year.
However, the route from North Africa to Italy and Malta remains the most frequented. More than 64,000 people used it this year, almost twice as many as last year. The number of migrants is also growing on the route through the Eastern Balkans, where this year Frontex counted over 55,000 illegal border crossings. Compared to last year, this is an increase of 138 percent, and compared to 2019, it is even more, specifically 387 percent.
On the other hand, Greece, the main gateway to Europe for refugees during the migration crisis in 2015, felt less pressure in recent years. In 2021, less than 19,000 people chose the route across the Eastern Mediterranean. That is almost the same number as last year, but three-quarters less than in 2019.
Spain also reports a stable situation. Frontex recorded just over 17,000 people this year who crossed the border illegally on the route from North Africa. Another 20,000 migrants entered the country on ships leaving the West African coast towards the Canary Islands. The journey via the Canary Islands began to be widely used last year. Compared to 2019, border crossings in this area increased by 900 percent this year.