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Increase in crossings in the Mediterranean

(credit: Frontex)

(B2) According to the Frontex agency, there were approximately “ 27.000 detections of illegal border crossings on the four main migration routes to the EU in May ". A number down 75%, during the first five months of 2017, compared to the same period last year – when this figure reached 84.000.

+77% in May compared to April off the coast of Italy

This figure should not hide the fact that it is the central Mediterranean which is now the main route of arrival: three out of four migrants arriving in Europe this year came through Italy. In May, the number of migrants arriving in Italy via the central Mediterranean route increased by 77% from April to 22.900. That is 60.000 since the start of the year (+ 26% than for the same period of 2016). Among them, mainly Nigerians, Bangalis and Ivorians, who represented the largest number of migrants.

Greece: increase but very relative…

The number of migrants arriving in Greece by sea and land routes in May increased by 31% compared to the previous month to more than 2.240, largely due to improved weather conditions. The figure was similar in May 2016. In the first five months of the year, some 9.900 migrants reached the Greek islands, 94% fewer than in the same period of 2016. Syrians and Iraqis make up the majority of the Eastern Mediterranean flow in May. NB: Potential asylum seekers. What distinguishes this route from the central Mediterranean route.

…and off the coast of Spain

We are witnessing a slight upsurge in the Western Mediterranean with the number of detections of illegal border crossings more than doubling during the first five months of the year compared to the same period of 2016 at nearly 6.000. “ largely due to increased activity on the land borders of the Spanish enclaves of La Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa ».

Low traffic in the Balkans

In the Balkans, the number of detections of illegal border crossings remains “ low"," similar to previous month ". The reasons for this significant drop in recent months are the fact that “fewer migrants are leaving Turkey via its land borders towards the Western Balkans,” reports the Frontex agency. NB: The EU-Türkiye agreement therefore stands, despite all the political imponderables.


(1) The Frontex agency compiles statistics on the number of detections of illegal border crossings at the external borders of the European Union. The number of real migrants is therefore lower. The same person may attempt to cross the border illegally several times at different locations. NB: This notion of multiple detection diminishes greatly in the central Mediterranean where the choice is quite binary: arrival or drowning.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).