World Border Security Congress2018-01-05 14:56:43
Migratory Flows In 2017 – Pressure Eased on Italy And Greece; Spain Saw Record Numbers
In 2017, the number of detections of illegal border-crossings into the European Union dropped for the second year in a row due to lower number of migrants reaching Italy and Greece. According to preliminary data, there were some 204 300 illegal border-crossings in 2017, 60% fewer than the previous year. Meanwhile, Spain saw the number of irregular migrants detected at its Western Mediterranean borders more than double to the highest level since Frontex began systematically collecting data in 2009.
The sudden plunge in the number of irregular migrants reaching Italy in mid-2017 was arguably the most significant development at the external borders of the EU since the implementation of the EU-Turkey statement in March 2016. After the monthly totals in the first half of 2017 roughly mirrored those seen a year earlier, the figures dropped suddenly starting in July. The total for the year stood at an estimated 119 000.
Nigerians accounted for the most arrivals on the Central Mediterranean route, accounting for about one out of every seven migrants. They were followed by nationals of Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire.
At EU’s external border with Turkey, the migratory pressure in 2017 remained roughly on level with the previous year’s figures after the implementation of the EU-Turkey statement. However, the number of detections in the second half of the year was higher than in the same period of 2016. This reflected the continued attempts by smuggling groups to circumvent border surveillance in spite of sustained commitment of the Turkish authorities to border management.
In all of 2017, there were some 41 700 detections of illegal border-crossings, both at sea and land borders, less than a quarter of the total in 2016.
Syrians and Iraqis remained the top two nationalities arriving in Greece last year on the Eastern Mediterranean route.
While the other two key sea routes into Europe saw a drop in migratory pressure in 2017, the number of migrants detected reaching Spain from northern Africa hit a new record high of nearly 22 900. This was more than double the previous record set in 2016.
The situation in the Rif region of Morocco, the main transit country for migrants heading to Spain, created an opportunity for more departures from its western coast in the second half of the year. This was coupled with a growing use of high-capacity boats capable of transporting large numbers of migrants.
Almost 40% of the migrants were nationals of Algeria and Morocco, whose numbers have been on the rise since the middle of 2017. Most of the remaining migrants on this route came from Western Africa.
Note: The data presented in this statement refer to the number of detections of irregular border-crossing at the external borders of the European Union. The same person may attempt to cross the border several times in different locations at the external border.