The number of irregular crossings into the EU grew sharply in the first nine months of 2022 compared to the previous year, the bloc’s border agency Frontex said Thursday.
“In the first nine months of this year, nearly 228,240 irregular entries were detected at the external borders of the European Union, according to preliminary calculations. This represents an increase of 70% compared with the same period last year and is the highest total recorded for the first three quarters of the year since 2016,” the agency stated.
The Western Balkans route has become the illegal migration hotspot this year, with over 100,000 irregular entries registered there. The majority of migrants seeking to enter the EU through this route come from Syria, Afghanistan and Türkiye, the agency noted.
The Central Mediterranean route, where migrants take dangerous trips in open boats in a bid to enter the EU, remains the second most-popular, accounting for some 65,000 illegal entries. The majority of illegal migrants on this route come from Tunisia, Egypt and Bangladesh, according to Frontex.
The illegal migration figures do not include the massive influx of refugees from Ukraine, Frontex noted, since they have been entering the bloc’s territory through border checkpoints. According to the agency’s latest figures, “more than 11 million Ukrainian nationals have entered the EU from Ukraine,” amid the ongoing conflict between Kiev and Moscow. However, an unspecified “significant number” of Ukrainians have already returned home, Frontex noted.