EU border agency announces increase in illegal entries

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The European Union’s border agency said Monday that the number of illegal entries by immigrants reached more than 275,000 from January to October this year.

The figure is 73% higher than the same period in 2021, and the highest since a peak in 2016, Frontex said.

The Warsaw-based European Border and Coast Guard Agency said most entries continue to occur on the Western Balkan route, where more than 128,000 have been detected. Migrants on this route come mainly from Burundi, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Central Mediterranean route, with migrants mostly trying to reach Italy, also saw a 48% increase in unauthorized arrivals, topping 79,000 in the first 10 months of 2022, according to a Frontex statement.

However, activity slowed on the Western Mediterranean route and on the overland route from Ukraine and Belarus. EU members Poland, Lithuania and Latvia have built walls on their borders with Belarus to prevent migrants from trying to enter illegally.

Frontex said the high number of crossings in the Western Balkan area “can be attributed to repeated attempts to cross the border by migrants already present” in the area, but also to people “abusing visa-free access to the region”.

He said some migrants travel visa-free to Belgrade, the capital of non-EU Serbia, and then head to the outer border of the 27-member bloc.

In response, Frontex has added over 500 corps officers and staff to the region.

In total, more than 2,300 corps officers and Frontex staff “are involved in various operational activities at the EU’s external border”, the agency said.

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Follow AP’s coverage of migration issues at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

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