Situation at EU external borders – Detections down because of drop in Eastern Mediterranean


The number of illegal border crossings at Europe’s external borders fell 7% in the first three months of 2021 compared to a year ago to around 24 000*, largely because of a drop in arrivals in Eastern and Western Mediterranean, according to preliminary calculations.

In March, the number of illegal border crossings reached over 5 750, about 4% more than in the same month of last year.

Western Africa

Nearly 1000 irregular migrants reached the Canary Islands in March, more than twice the total from March 2020.

In the first quarter of the year, more than 3 300 irregular migrants arrived on the Canary Islands, more than double the total from the same period of 2020.

Nationals from sub-Saharan countries, most claiming to be from Mali and Ivory Coast, accounted for the largest number of arrivals.

Central Mediterranean

The number of migrants crossing the Central Mediterranean rose nearly four-fold in March to almost 1 800 compared to a year ago.

Between January and March of this year, the total number of illegal crossings on this route more-than-doubled to some 8 450.

Nationals of Tunisia and Ivory Coast accounted for the two main nationalities on this migratory route.

Western Mediterranean

There were around 1 050 detections of illegal border crossings in the Western Mediterranean in March, nearly twice the figure from the same month of 2020.

The total for the first three months of 2021 stood at around 2 700, or 8% less than in the same period in the previous year.

Algerians accounted for three of every five detections on this route this year, while Moroccans made up most of the remaining arrivals.

Eastern Mediterranean

According to the most recent data, there were around 1 850 detections of illegal crossings reported in March on the Eastern Mediterranean route, 43% less than a year ago

In the January-March period, the total number of detections fell 71% to around 3 300.

Nationals of Syria and Turkey accounted for the largest number of detected migrants.

Western Balkans

There were fewer than 100 detections of illegal border crossings reported so far on the Western Balkan route in March, although the final figure will likely be significantly higher.

In the first quarter of this year, nearly 6000 migrants were detected at EU’s border with the Western Balkan countries, roughly in line with the total from the same period of 2020.

The two main detected nationalities were Syrians and Afghans.

*The figure includes other less active migratory routes not mentioned in this press release. The final figures may be higher due to delayed reporting.

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 attempt to cross the border several times in different locations at the external border.