Record arrivals on Western African route in October


The number of detections of irregular border crossings at EU’s external borders rose by 18% in the first ten months of 2023 to nearly 331 600, the highest total for the period since 2015, according to preliminary calculations*.

The Western African route has seen the biggest rise in the number of irregular crossings, which nearly doubled so far this year to over 27 700. This is the highest total for this migratory route since Frontex began collecting data in 2009. The number of arrivals (13 000) in October was also the highest monthly total on record.

2 600 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 October, there were nearly 49 600 detections of irregular border crossings at EU external borders, up 18% year-on-year.
  • The Western African route saw record numbers in October and in the first 10 months.
  • Central Mediterranean saw a steep drop in crossings in October.
  • Top three nationalities on all routes this year: Syria, Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire.

The Central Mediterranean remained the busiest migratory route into the EU in 2023 with more than 143 600 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.

However, the number of monthly detections on this route dropped 50% month-on-month to October to nearly 9 600.

Sea crossings continue to present extreme dangers. Data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) indicates that 2,468 people have been reported missing in the Mediterranean this year, the majority of whom were navigating the Central Mediterranean route.

During the January-October period, the Western Balkan route, the second most active route with more than 97 300 detections, saw a decline of 22%, in large part due to tighter visa policies.

Despite adverse weather conditions heightening the risk of life-threatening incidents, in October the number of detections of irregular crossings remained high in the Channel at over 8 200. Nevertheless, surveillance efforts, adverse weather conditions, and various other factors have significantly impacted attempts to cross the Channel. Notably, two-thirds of these attempts resulted in detection and interception by French authorities or an attempted crossing that led to a return to shore or a rescue at sea.

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.