Since 2015, Frontex has been highly active at the Greek-Turkish border | Photo: Picture-alliance
Since 2015, Frontex has been highly active at the Greek-Turkish border | Photo: Picture-alliance

The EU border agency Frontex says the number of detected illegal border crossings into the EU has continued to fall. In the first trimester of 2019, the total was 27 percent lower than a year ago.

With a total of 24,200 unauthorized border crossings in the first four months of 2019, the total has dropped by almost a third compared with last year. The decrease is mainly due to a drop in the number of crossings of the Eastern Mediterranean, Frontex says.

Despite decreasing numbers, the Eastern Mediterranean route remains the busiest route into Europe in terms of total numbers. In April, more than half the unauthorized crossings were detected on Europe's eastern borders.

However, crossings of the Eastern Mediterranean fell by around one quarter in April compared with the previous month. A total of 2,940 cases were reported in April. Frontex attributes the drop mainly to poor weather conditions.

In the first four months of this year, the total number of detections in this region fell 18 percent from a year ago to around 12,750.  One in four detected migrants on this route were Afghans who arrived mainly by sea. One out of five were citizens of Turkey, crossing land borders.

Increase on Western, drop on Central Mediterranean route

The Western Mediterranean saw an increase in irregular border crossings. In April, Frontex registered 900 cases, almost double the number registered in March. The total for the January-April period rose to more than 6,300, or nearly one-third above the figure from the same period last year, Frontex says. Most migrants traveling this route came from Morocco, Guinea, Mali and Ivory Coast.

The number of irregular crossings of the Central Mediterranean has continued to fall. In April, around 200 were detected, a drop of around 50 percent compared with March. The total for the first four months of the year was 91 percent lower than a year ago at around 880. Most migrants came from Tunisia and Algeria, Frontex says.

Note: The number of irregular crossings refers to a detection of a crossing at the external borders of the EU. It does not refer to the number of individuals, as the same person may try to cross the border several times.