16 May 2014

Most people detected trying to cross irregularly an EU border in 2013 were Syrian nationals, according to the latest report by the EU border agency Frontex.

25,500 Syrians were detected trying to enter the EU irregularly, accounting for almost a quarter of the total of persons detected. Member States reported to Frontex that there were over 50,000 applications for international protection from Syrians in 2013 – by far the largest of any nationality.

The number of people detected entering the EU irregularly in 2013 – 107,000 – is nearly 50% higher than for 2012, but roughly comparable to 2009 and 2010 and lower than the figure for 2011.

Frontex underlines steady numbers of migrants departing from North Africa (Libya and Egypt) and crossing the Mediterranean. Most people detected in the Central Mediterranean in 2013 were Eritreans (9,926) and Syrians (9,591).

Regarding the Eastern Mediterranean, Frontex reports that following the strengthening of border surveillance on the Greek side in 2012, including the completion of a fence along the 12-kilometre land border with Turkey and the deployment of additional border officers, as well as the continued implementation of Frontex-coordinated Joint Operations (Poseidon Sea and Land), the number of people detected crossing irregularly the Greek-Turkish land border dropped significantly.

Frontex also underlines that the number of people detected crossing irregularly the Bulgarian land border dropped sharply after October 2013, coinciding with a strengthening of surveillance efforts at the land border between Bulgaria and Turkey and the deployment of additional officers.

EU Commissioner Malmström told The Independent this week: “Why do people embark on those boats? Because there are no legal ways to get to Europe. The immediate way to help people, especially people from Syria, would be to engage in resettlement”. “Pathetically few countries take resettled refugees”, Malmström said.

The EU border agency also registered a sharp increase in the number of people detected attempting to cross irregularly to Hungary through its land border with Serbia.

The report also contains statistics on refusals of entry, document fraud, irregular stay and returns.

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 16 May 2014.
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