The number of irregular border crossings detected on the European Union’s external borders last year fell to the lowest level since 2013 due to a drop in the number of people reaching European shores via the Central and Western Mediterranean routes.
Preliminary 2019 data collected by Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, showed a 6% fall in illegal border crossings along the EU’s external borders to just over 139 000. This is 92% below the record number set in 2015.
The number of irregular migrants crossing the Central Mediterranean fell roughly 41% to around 14 000. Nationals of Tunisia and Sudan accounted for the largest share of detections on this route.
The total number of irregular migrants detected in the Western Mediterranean dropped approximately 58% to around 24 000, with Moroccans and Algerians making up the largest percentage.
Overall, Afghans were the main nationality of newly arrived irregular migrants in 2019, representing almost a quarter of all arrivals. The number of Afghan migrants was nearly three times (+167%) the figure from the previous year. Roughly four out of five were registered on the Eastern Mediterranean route, while nearly all the rest on the Western Balkan route.
The most recent available data also suggest a higher percentage of women among the newly arrived migrants in 2019. In the first ten months of last year, around 23% of migrants were women compared with 19% in 2018. EU countries counted approximately 14 600 migrant children younger than 14 in the January-October period, almost one thousand more than in all of 2018.