Situation at EU external borders – Arrivals down in first half of 2020

In the first half of this year, the number of illegal border crossings at Europe’s external borders fell by nearly a one-fifth from a year ago to 36 400*, mainly because of the effects of the COVID pandemic. The drop was especially pronounced on the Western and Eastern Mediterranean migratory routes.

In June, the number of illegal border crossings was roughly in line with the previous month at nearly 4 500.

Western Balkans

The Western Balkans became the most active migratory route in June with 2 050 detections of illegal border crossings, 70% more than in May and nearly three-times the figure from a year ago. The number of migrants crossing the Western Balkans has increased due to higher numbers of people who had originally landed in Greece and the easing of COVID measures by the national authorities in the region.

In the first half of this year, almost 9 300 migrants were detected at EU’s border in the region, 73% more than in the first six months of 2019.

Two of every three migrants detected in the region so far this year were Syrian, while Afghans accounted for 17% of the border crossings.

Eastern Mediterranean

According to the most recent data, there were some 200 detections of illegal crossings reported in June on the Eastern Mediterranean route, although this number is expected to be higher as final figures are calculated. Nevertheless, the final tally is expected to be close to May’s figure and remain among the lowest totals recorded on this route since at least 2009.

In the first six months of 2020, the total number of detections fell by nearly half to around 11 900.

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

Central Mediterranean

The number of migrants reaching Europe using the Central Mediterranean route last month fell by nearly 50% to slightly more than 900.

But in the first half of this year, the total for the region reached close to 7 200, which is double the figure from the same period of 2019. This is in large part due to the higher numbers from the start of 2020 compared to very low figures from a year ago.

Tunisians and Bangladeshis made up the largest portion of the detections in the Central Mediterranean.

Western Mediterranean

There were around 750 detections of illegal border crossings in the Western Mediterranean in June, 8% more than in the previous month.

The total for the first six months of 2020 halved to 4 500, with Algerians accounting for one out of every two arrivals. Moroccans were the second most represented nationality on this route.