January: Number of irregular border crossings down slightly from a year ago

In January, more than 13 200 irregular border crossings were detected at EU’s external borders*, down 12% from a year ago in large part due to poor weather conditions on some sea routes, preliminary figures compiled by Frontex showed.  

In 2022, the agency reported around 330 000 irregular border crossings at EU’s external border, the highest number since 2016. 

Key developments: 

  • 13 200 irregular border crossings detected in January 
  • 43% of all irregular entries occurred via the Western Balkans 
  • 49% increase in the Central Mediterranean in January 
  • Nationals of Afghanistan, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea and Syria most frequently reported

Top migratory routes: 

The Western Balkans route continued to account for the largest number of all the crossings (43% of the total in January), although the situation compared with last year remains largely unchanged (5% decrease year-on-year). 

The Western African and the Western Mediterranean routes saw the biggest drops in detections in the first month of the year, 82% and 49% respectively, mainly due to harsh weather conditions affecting departures. 

Another reason for this decrease is the increased patrolling and preventive activities implemented by the non-EU countries, primarily Morocco. In the coming months, deteriorating seasonal weather conditions in the Mediterranean will continue to affect illegal border-crossing attempts leading to a decrease in arrival numbers. 

Meanwhile, the Central Mediterranean route saw the largest increase of detected irregular migrants compared to the same month of last year. The total number rose by half to 4 500. 

Migrants on this route continue to depart from Tunisia, Libya and Türkiye.  

Despite the high number of arrivals, weather conditions significantly influenced the number of incidents registered in the Central Mediterranean. People smugglers exploited good weather to organise departures.  

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.

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