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Irregular migrants in East Med doubled

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Detections of irregular entries by migrants and refugees through the European Union’s external borders on the Eastern Mediterranean route remain high, with significant numbers arriving in Cyprus, said EU border agency Frontex.

During the first seven months to July, 22,601 arrivals were recorded on the Eastern Mediterranean route (including the EU’s external borders with Turkey), a 133% rise or more than double last year.

A total of 2,642 arrivals were recorded in July alone.

Arrivals in Cyprus totalled 14,936 during the first seven months, accounting for more than half of the total detections, marking an increase of 203%.

Most refugees and migrants in the Eastern Mediterranean route came from Syria, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo-Kinshasa).

There were 155,090 irregular entries detected, an increase of 86% compared with the same period last year.

In July, EU Member States recorded about 34,570 irregular crossings, 63% more than in the same month in 2021.

The Western Balkan continues to be the most active migratory route into the EU, with 14,866 detections in July, nearly three times more than last year.

The high number of illegal border crossings can be attributed to repeated crossing attempts by migrants already present in the Western Balkans.

During the first seven months of the year, the Western Balkan route accounted for 70,770 crossings, nearly three times the total from 2021.

The main nationalities on this route included refugees and migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, and Turkey.

Numbers remain high on the Central Mediterranean route, with daily arrivals putting strain on the reception capacities in Italy.

Frontex registered 42,549 irregular border crossings on this route, 44% more than in the first seven months of 2021.

In July, 14,821 irregular border crossings were reported on the Central Mediterranean route, 60% more than in the same month of 2021.

Tunisians (30%) were the top nationality registered on this route in July, but Egyptians slightly overpassed Tunisians in 2022.

Criminal smuggling

Egyptians detected on this route are on the rise; they are departing mainly from Libya and are aided by criminal smuggling, according to Frontex.

Some 6,434 irregular border crossings were detected on the Western Mediterranean route, down 25% from last year.

Criminal smuggling networks attempted to use calm weather conditions to organise simultaneous departures using jet skis. Most migrants detected on this route came from Morocco.

On the Eastern land border route, Frontex registered 2,923 irregular crossings, 32% down from last year.

Frontex said people fleeing Ukraine and entering the EU through border crossing points are not part of the figures of irregular entries detected.

According to Frontex data, 7.7 million Ukrainian nationals have fled Ukraine into the EU since the start of the war.

At the same time, many Ukrainian nationals have since returned home.

The Western African route recorded 9,461 detections, 25% more than last year, with 832 crossings in July.

The number of refugees and irregular migrants seeking to cross the Channel towards the UK in small boats remained high with 27,990 detections, a 55% increase since 2021.

Those attempting to cross were mainly from Afghanistan, Iran and Syria.