Arrivals in the Central Mediterranean slow in September


The number of detections of irregular border crossings at EU’s external borders rose by 17% in the first nine months of 2023 to 279 350, the highest total for the period since 2016, according to preliminary calculations*.

The Central Mediterranean accounted for one out of every two detections at the EU’s external borders so far this year. Nevertheless, the number of crossings in the region fell by a third from the previous month and the Western Balkans took over as the most active migratory route in September.

2750 standing corps officers and Frontex staff are involved in various operations supporting member states and neighbouring countries in protecting the EU's external borders and fighting crime.

  • In September, there were 51 500 detections of irregular border crossings at EU external borders, up 17% year-on-year.
  • The Central Mediterranean saw a month-on-month drop in arrivals.
  • Western African and Eastern Mediterranean routes also see more crossings in 2023.
  • Top three nationalities on all routes this year: Syria, Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire.

The Central Mediterranean remains the most active route into the EU this year, with more than 131 600 detections reported by national authorities in the first three quarters of 2023. This is the highest total on this route for this period since 2016.

Unfortunately, the sea crossings remain extremely dangerous. According to IOM data, more than 2 384 people went missing in the Mediterranean so far this year, with the vast majority on the Central Mediterranean route.

During the January-September period, the Western Balkan route, the second most active route with more than 81 800 detections, saw a decline of 23%, in large part due to tighter visa policies.

The number of irregular crossings in the English Channel towards the UK fell 12% in the first nine months to over 46 500.

Note: The preliminary data presented in this statement refer to the number of detections of irregular border-crossing at the external borders of the European Union. The same person may cross the border several times in different locations at the external border.