BRUSSELS (AP) – The number of people trying to enter Europe without authorization has risen significantly this year, exceeding the numbers of migrant border crossings in 2019, before restrictions to combat the COVID-19 pandemic severely limited travel. the border and coast guard of the European Union reported Tuesday.
Frontex indicated in a statement that 160,000 “illegal border crossings” were registered in the first 10 months of this year, 70% more than the same period in 2020 and 45% more than in 2019. The largest increase was in the eastern borders of the European Union, in the Balkan region and the crossings through the center of the Mediterranean.
Some 8,000 people – mostly Iraqis, Afghans and Syrians – entered through the eastern EU border, 15 times more than in 2020, the agency said. Belarus crossings peaked in July at more than 3,200, but had dropped to 600 by October.
Frontex reported that “although frictions between the EU and the Belarusian regime continue”, neighboring Belarus countries have “significantly strengthened their border control measures under exceptional states of emergency” and this has prevented people from mobilizing in large numbers .
The agency noted that some 48,500 crossings were reported on the “Western Balkan route,” which many migrants traverse on foot in search of better lives or sanctuary in the relatively wealthy 27 EU member countries. More than 9,000 entries were registered in October, an increase of 810% compared to 2019.
Arrivals through the central Mediterranean also increased, reaching 6,240 in October, 186% more than in 2019. Frontex noted that “an important development” is that an increasing number of migrants cross by sea to Italy directly from Turkey. Most tend to be from Libya and other parts of North Africa.