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Surge in Irregular Border Crossings Into EU in 2023

The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) reported a significant increase in irregular border crossings into the European Union (EU) in 2023, surpassing totals seen since 2016. By the end of November, at least 355,300 migrants arrived via non-regular means this year, already exceeding full-year totals in recent years. The Central Mediterranean Route, mainly involving crossings from Tunisia or Libya to Italy, constituted around 43 percent of all arrivals, totaling over 152,000 and marking a 61 percent increase from the previous year.

The Western African Route to Spain’s Canary Islands experienced the most significant surge, rising by 116 percent compared to the same period last year, with arrivals up by 500 percent in November alone. However, other routes, such as the Western Balkan Route, showed declines in arrivals. Frontex acknowledged that its figures might not be comprehensive, excluding undetected entries and potential multiple counting of individuals. Most irregular arrivals in 2023 originated from Syria, Guinea, and Afghanistan.