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Illegal EU border crossings at six year low, says new report

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By Shafi Musaddique
Illegal EU border crossings at six year low, says new report

The number of detected illegal border crossings into the European Union (EU) in 2018 is at its lowest level since 2013 after a significant drop for the third year in a row, according to a new report.

EU member states saw around a twelfth of the 1.8 million detections at the height of the migration crisis in 2015.

Fewer migrants took the Central Mediterranean route into Italy last year, Frontex said in their annual Risk Analysis report published on Wednesday.

The Western Mediterranean route, from Morocco to Spain, saw more detected illegal crossings compared to any other part of the EU’s external border.

Tunisia replaced Libya as the main departure point for migrants heading towards Italy and other EU countries located near the centre of the Mediterranean Sea.

Migrants taking the route via Turkey into the Aegean and Ionian Sea fell by 37 percent, the lowest number of migrants found to be crossing by authorities since 2012.

Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis were most commonly found to use the route to Eastern Europe via Turkey in 2018 – a route used by many Syrians fleeing civil war during the height of the migrant crisis in 2015.

Women account for 18 percent of the migrant population crossing from North Africa and Asia into the EU, while one in five claimed to be under the age of 18.

The drop in the number of migrants entering Europe has also had a knock on effect on the number of illegal overstays recorded, down by almost a quarter in 2018 compared to the previous year.

France and Germany are both estimated to have 50,000 people illegally residing in each country.

Fraudulent documents and people smugglers remain vital parts of a complex network exploiting and bringing people abroad.

Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport is the top departure airport for detections of fake documents (such as passports) from Asian and African countries.

The report also said that smuggling groups have “further excelled” in operating beyond the reach of EU member states to avoid detection.