Illegal migration lowest since 2013
By Jack Troughton THE number of people caught attempting to enter the European Union illegally has dropped to its lowest level in five years.
Frontex, the EU border agency, estimated that 150,000 illegal crossings were registered over 2018; the lowest amount of human migration since 2013 and some 92% down on 2015; regarded as the peak of the migrant crisis.
However, the western Mediterranean route is now the most active, with illegal landings in Spain doubling for the second year running.
Numbers of people attempting to cross the sea and enter Italy have fallen sharply, Frontex stressing this was because of the populist government refusing to allow rescue boats access to dock at its ports.
The numbers of people detected last year was also a quarter down on 2017 – the biggest fall on the central Mediterranean route from northern Africa to southern Italy, down by 80% to just over 23,000. Departures from Libya dropped by 87% and from Algeria by nearly half.
Frontex, which monitors all of the EU’s external borders, said the number of people caught arriving in Spain doubled to 57,000 over the last 12 months.
The United Nation’s refugee agency has warned that while the number of migrants arriving in Europe has fallen, the number of deaths has climbed sharply – it is feared that over 2,000 people perished or went missing when attempting to make crossings to Europe in 2018.
And the UN special envoy for the central Mediterranean said the journey had become more dangerous because traffickers were taking more risks in a bid to avoid increased surveillance by international authorities.