Irregular migration to EU at lowest level since 2013, rise in EastMed route


The number of irregular migration recorded on the European Union’s external borders fell last year to the lowest level since 2013, due to a drop in the number of people reaching European shores via the Central and Western Mediterranean routes, the European Union's border control agency Frontex said Wednesday.

Preliminary data for 2019 showed a 6 percent fall in illegal border crossings to just over 139,000, a whopping 92 percent below the record number recorded in 2015, when migratory flows reached their peak.

However, the Eastern Mediterranean saw growing migratory pressure starting in the spring, which peaked in September and then started falling in accordance with the seasonal trend.

Last year, more than 82,000 migrants used that route, roughly 46 percent more than in 2018, the data showed.

Frontex said some migrants transferred from the Greek islands to the mainland appear to have continued on the Western Balkan migratory route.

"There has been an increase in detections on the Greek-Albanian border after the start of the Frontex joint operation in May. In the second half of the year, a significant number of detections was reported on the EU borders with Serbia," the agency said.