The Western African Route connects Western
African countries and regions with the Canary Islands in Spain. In 2022, there were 15 460 arrivals, 31% less than in 2021. More than two-thirds of the detected migrants coming from Morocco and various sub-Saharan countries.
The overall number of detections of
irregular border crossings was 22 504, staying on the same level with the
numbers from 2020.
to previous years, the pressure peaked in September. The main nationality
detected continued to be Moroccan, followed by various Western African nations.
Migratory pressure increased
significantly in 2020 as 23 029 irregular migrants were detected on this route,
over eight times the number in 2019.
The increased pressure can be
attributed to the pandemic restrictions, which diverted migrants who were
already present in Morocco from the Western Mediterranean route to this longer
and more dangerous path to Europe. The increased prevention activities of
Moroccan authorities were also a significant factor.
As human smugglers adapted to the
demand and set up appropriate logistics for the smuggling to the Canary Islands,
the arrivals particularly increased exponentially in the last third of the year.
Of all detections, roughly half
were Moroccan and the other half sub-Saharan migrants. Morocco and the Western
Sahara region were the top areas of departure, accounting for around three
quarters of all departures.
In 2019 the number of irregular
migrants on this route continued to increase as 2718 illegal border crossings
were recorded, roughly twice the number of detections compared with 2018.
Sub-Saharan migrants accounted for
more than half of all detections, while the number of Moroccans increased only
Departures from Morocco more than
doubled from the previous year.
The number of irregular migrants on
the Western African route started to increase in 2018 after having experienced
a decreasing trend during the previous year. The total number of detections,
1323, represents almost a three-fold increase from the previous year.
The number of departures from Morocco
particularly contributed to the heightened pressure: out of all detections, around
half of all the persons detected departed from Morocco, while the rest mainly
departed from Senegal.
In 2017, 421 irregular migrants
were detected on the Western African route, continuing the decreasing trend
from the previous year. Most migrants detected came from Senegal and Morocco.
671 detections were reported in
2016. This low number can be attributed to the Memorandum of Understanding
between Spain, Senegal and Mauritania, which included joint surveillance
activities and effective return of those detected crossing the border
illegally. As in the previous year, most departures were reported from Morocco.
In 2015, the total number of
illegal border crossings stood at 874, more than three times as many as in
2014. Departures from Morocco particularly increased.
For more information on this route, see Frontex’s annual risk analysis reports.
Illegal border crossings on the West African route in numbers.