The doubling of irregular arrivals of migrants and asylum seekers in the Central Mediterranean migration corridor (mainly North Africa to Italy), with an increase of 118% in the first two months of 2023 compared to the same period last year are recorded by updated data released by Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.
According to the same data, the smallest increase during the same period was recorded in the Eastern Mediterranean migration corridor (6%), which includes Cyprus, while a decrease was also recorded in the Western Mediterranean migration corridors (-38%) and the Western Africa (-68%).
Specifically in the Eastern Mediterranean, 3,981 irregular crossings were recorded in the first two months of 2023, of which 1,644 in February. The crossings in our region concerned mainly citizens of Syria, Afghanistan and Palestine.
In absolute numbers, the total irregular crossings reported to Frontex by national authorities in the first two months of 2023 reached 28,130, about the same as in the same period last year.
The most active migration corridors remain those of the Central Mediterranean and the Western Balkans. However, the Central Mediterranean corridor accounts for two out of five irregular crossings from across the EU.
Most refugees and asylum seekers recorded in the first two months of 2023 came from Syria, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In February, a total of nearly 13,689 irregular crossings abroad were recorded. EU borders, slightly more than last year.
Specifically by migration corridor, 11,951 crossings were recorded in the Central Mediterranean in the first two months of the year, the most of all corridors, and twice as many as compared to last year. In February in particular, crossings tripled compared to last year, reaching 6,988.
Crossings in the Central Mediterranean concerned mainly citizens of the Ivory Coast, Guinea and Pakistan.
In the Western Balkans it was recorded a significant decrease in February, thanks to the alignment of Serbia's visa policy with EU standards, as reported. It remained the corridor with the second highest number of crossings in the first two months (8,394), of which 3,361 in February.
In this particular corridor, the crossings concerned citizens of Syria, Afghanistan and Turkey.
Finally, the number of irregular crossings from the EU to the UK increased in the first two months of 2023 to 5,622, an increase of 82% compared to the same period last year. These are mainly citizens of Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea.
At the moment, there are approximately 2,400 Frontex officers and staff on the ground in support of member states.