Review of the Year: Irregular border crossings are on the rise in Europe this year | Popgen Tech


Irregular border crossings at the external borders of the European Union increased in 2022.

According to the EU’s border agency Frontex, there were around 281,000 crossings reported in the EU from the beginning of the year to the end of October.

This figure is an increase of 77% since 2021, via land and sea routes.

In the month of October alone, there were 42,000 irregular crossings – 71% more than in October last year.

The Western Balkans region is the most active route, with 128,000 people – the highest number since the height of the migration crisis in 2015.

Governments built fences

Building fences and walls has been the response of governments then and now, especially in 2021 after Belarus allegedly “pulled” migrants to the borders in a fight against Brussels.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has heightened fears of similar efforts to “weaponize migration”.

The Schengen area currently has 19 border fences spanning more than 2,000 kilometers.

Twelve EU countries have built fences at one or more of their borders and many have restored border controls.

It suspends the rules of the Schengen system

France responded by tightening controls, much to the frustration of human rights groups.

And the Basque Country along the French-Spanish border has seen thousands of migrants from Africa trying to reach northern Europe.

Two major incidents

There were two specific incidents this year that underlined the need for a common EU response: the dramatic images of migrants trying to cross from Morocco to Spain via Melilla – when 23 people died.

The other was the dispute between France and Italy over the migrants on board the OCEAN VIKING ship. Rome’s government rejected the calls to dock at Italy and so they disembarked at Toulon.

Brussels response

With alarm bells ringing, Brussels has announced a plan to improve the coordination of migrant arrivals for a fair migration management system, saying it must be done in a humane way.

Brussels continues to monitor the increasing numbers.

War in Ukraine

Europe has so far welcomed around 7 million Ukrainians and since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, member states have created a system of ‘temporary protection’ for almost 5 million people.

According to the UN refugee agency, Romania has offered temporary protection to more than 91,000 Ukrainians, while Poland has offered similar rights to 1.5 million people.

France has also put in place schemes for 118,000 Ukrainian refugees.


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