Situation at EU external borders – Western African route at record highs


The number of illegal border crossings at Europe’s external borders fell 8% in the first 11 months of this year to 116 840*, largely because of a drop in arrivals in Eastern and Western Mediterranean, according to preliminary calculations. Meanwhile, the Western African route continued to see record numbers of irregular migrants.

In November, the number of illegal border crossings was 30% higher than in the previous month, reaching nearly 22 800.

Western Africa

More than 8 150 irregular migrants reached the Canary Islands in November compared to 517 a year ago. This is the highest monthly total for this route since Frontex began to collect the data in 2009.

In the first 11 months of the year, almost 19 600 irregular migrants were detected reaching the Canary Islands. Most of these arrivals were recorded since the beginning of August.

Nationals from sub-Saharan countries and Morocco accounted for most of the registered arrivals.

Central Mediterranean

The Central Mediterranean saw a 61% rise in illegal border crossings from the previous month to around 5 400.

In the first 11 months of this year, the total number of illegal crossings on this route more than doubled to nearly 34 200.

Tunisians have accounted for two out of every five illegal crossings via the Central Mediterranean, while Bangladeshis were responsible for one in five.

Western Mediterranean

There were around 1 450 detections of illegal border crossings in the Western Mediterranean in November, half the total from the previous month.

The total for the first 11 months of 2020 stood at close to 15 900, or 29% less than in the same period in the previous year.

Algerians accounted for two-thirds of all detections on this route this year, while Moroccans were the second most represented nationality.

Eastern Mediterranean

According to the most recent data, there were around 750 detections of illegal crossings reported in November on the Eastern Mediterranean route, less than half the figure from October. Most of the detections took place at the land border.

In the January-November period, the total number of detections dropped by three-quarters to around 18 500.

Nationals of Syria, Afghanistan, and Turkey accounted for the largest number of detected migrants.

Western Balkans

There were 3 200 detections of illegal border crossings on the Western Balkan route in November, 16% fewer than in October.

In the first 11 months of this year, nearly 23 300 migrants were detected at EU’s border with the Western Balkan countries, more than double the total from the first 11 months of 2019.

Some 60% irregular migrants detected in the region so far this year was Syrian, while Afghans accounted for another 20% of all detections at the EU borders here.

*The figure includes other less active migratory routes not mentioned in this press release. The final figures may be higher due to delayed reporting.

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