Illegal border crossings into the European Union have remained significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels, as a 78 percent increase in illegal crossings was recorded by Frontex last month, compared to the figures reported in January 2021.
A total of 13,160 illegal border crossings were recorded at the European Union’s external border in January 2022, according to figures released by Frontex on Tuesday.
While the bloc’s eastern land border saw a significant reduction in illegal crossings compared to last January, migrants crossing into Europe via the Western Balkan route and from northern Africa into Italy had doubled, up 148 percent and 107 percent respectively.
“Syria, Afghanistan and Turkey were the top three countries of origin of migrants” using the Western Balkan route, Frontex revealed.
Similarly, migrants in western Africa crossing the Atlantic ocean to reach Spain’s Canary islands were up 50 percent, of which half were Moroccan nationals, while those crossing the relatively narrow strait to the Spanish mainland dropped slightly by 32 percent.
Meanwhile, at the bloc’s southeast border, the Eastern Mediterranean route has experienced an increase of 28 percent. Those landing on Cyprus were up 48 percent, an island which local politicians say has already been saturated by illegal immigration. Earlier this month, Nicholas Lisaides, the mayor of Chloraka, a Cypriot village with a population of just 4,420, claimed the influx of immigration is unsustainable and described parts of his village as a “ghetto” following the arrival of over 1,700 migrants.
The eastern land border of Poland, which experienced more issues in the later part of 2021 with neighboring Belarus, will be hopeful of keeping illegal crossings down to a minimum following the construction of a 186-kilometer barrier expected to be completed by June.
The greater activity suggests that Europe is on course to surpass last year’s illegal immigration figures of almost 200,000 by some margin, which had already been the highest since 2017.