The year 2023 witnessed a surge in irregular border crossings at the European external border, with the total reaching around 380,000. According to recent data from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex, this increase was driven by a spike in arrivals through the Mediterranean region, marking the highest level since 2016.
Frontex reported a 17 per cent increase in irregular crossings compared to 2022 figures, indicating a consistent upward trajectory over the past three years. The Central Mediterranean emerged as the primary migratory route, contributing 41 per cent of all irregular crossings into the EU in 2023, followed by the Western Balkans at 26 per cent and the Eastern Mediterranean at 16 per cent.
Syrians accounted for over 100,000 irregular crossings last year, the highest number among all nationalities, followed by Guineans and Afghans. Women comprised only ten per cent of the total irregular crossings, while children accounted for another ten per cent.
Frontex’s Executive Director Hans Leijtens commented on the presented numbers, emphasizing the evolving challenges in managing the EU’s external borders and the commitment to ensuring their security and integrity.
Frontex deployed 2,500 EU border guard officers and additional staff in joint operations across Europe’s borders to address the increasing irregular border crossings. The authority also revealed a 17 per cent increase in irregular border crossings during the first 11 months of 2023, totaling 355,300, with the West Africa route experiencing a two-fold increase in irregular crossings, surpassing 32,400. This figure represents the highest recorded since data collection by Frontex began in 2009.
Still have some travel questions? Ask in our Travel WhatsApp Group.