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2022 witnesses highest number of EU entry attempts by migrants

January 14, 2023 at 11:22 am

Irregular migrants are seen with Tunisian National Guard off the city of Sfax in the south of Tunisia. [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

Migrants made nearly 330,000 attempts to enter the European Union (EU) without a permit last year – the highest number since 2016, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) disclosed on Friday.

The EU’s Frontex agency confirmed that nearly half of the attempts made in 2022 were made overland through the Western Balkans, according to its “preliminary calculations”. Regardless of the route of entry, Syrians, Afghans, and Tunisians together accounted for nearly 47 per cent of border crossing attempts.

The agency added that men accounted for more than 80 per cent of entry attempts.

The agency counts entry attempts rather than the number of people trying to enter Europe because it is often difficult to identify migrants, who usually travel without passports, and some may attempt entry multiple times.

People who reach Europe’s borders to apply for asylum have a reasonable chance of being allowed entry, while those who come without a visa in search of employment and a better life are usually denied.

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More than one million people, mostly Syrians fleeing conflict in their homeland, entered the EU in 2015, overwhelming reception facilities and sparking one of the biggest political crises in the 27-nation bloc.

Member states are still arguing about who should take responsibility for people who arrive without permission and whether their neighbours and partners should be obliged to help. There has been little progress in attempts to reform the bloc’s asylum system.

The latest Frontex figures did not include the nearly 13 million Ukrainian refugees counted at the EU’s external borders between February and December last year.

Special emergency measures have been introduced to facilitate their entry and help them find housing, training and short-term employment.

Over the past year, the number of people making perilous journeys across the Mediterranean in poorly equipped, often overloaded, inflatable dinghies and inflatable boats has continued to rise.

Frontex shared that more than 100,000 crossing attempts were recorded – an increase of about 50 per cent over 2021.

Migrants from Egypt, Tunisia and Bangladesh made the most attempts. The agency said that 2022 experienced the arrival of the largest number of people in five years from Libya, the main departure point in North Africa. The number of people leaving Tunisia has reached the highest level in recent history.

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