In 2017, the total number of illegal border-crossings into the Eu dropped to its lowest in four years, especially due to a fall in detections on the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkan routes, Frontex analysts write in the Risk Analysis for 2018 report released today.

The annual total of 204 700 marked a significant decrease compared to recent years, but not yet a return to the situation before 2014, when figures ranged between 72 000 and 141 000 detections.

While the comparison on the annual basis shows that the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkan routes had the biggest decline in absolute numbers, the most significant development of last year was the sudden plunge in the number of illegal border crossings on the Central Mediterranean. The sudden reversal on this route took place in July.

In contrast with the three major migratory routes, the number of detections in the Western Mediterranean reached an unprecedented high, more than double the previous record from 2016.

Corresponding to the changes on the migratory routes, the relative share of African nationals increased compared with 2016, driven by fast-growing numbers of migrants from Maghreb countries (notably Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) in the second half of the year. As a result, African nationals accounted for almost two-thirds of irregular migrants arriving at the shores of the Eu.



Risk Analysis for 2018 also presents various indicators related to the EU’s external borders and migration in 2017. These include:

204 700 detections of illegal border crossings between border-crossing points (down 60%)

183 500 refusals of entry (down 15%)

151 400 effective returns by member states (down 14%)

Frontex assisted more than 14 000 returns (up 33%)

10 200 detections of people smugglers/facilitators (down 19%)



The Frontex report also includes featured analyses about topics such as:

the role of border guards in countering terrorism

the impact of cross-border crime at sea and Frontex’s growing role in combating it

trafficking in human beings

secondary migratory movements in the Eu



Risk Analysis for 2018 concludes that the sea, especially along the Mediterranean routes, will remain the most active path for illegal crossing of the Eu external borders, but also one of the most dangerous for migrants.

Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, is leading the way to expand the cooperation among various authorities, contributing to combatting various cross-border crimes, as well as additional coordination in search and rescue efforts.

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