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Irregular migration to EU 'at lowest level since 2013' says Frontex border agency

Migrants wait in front of the Bira refugee camp in Bihac, northwestern Bosnia, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019.
Migrants wait in front of the Bira refugee camp in Bihac, northwestern Bosnia, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. Copyright AP Photo/Darko VojinovicDarko Vojinovic
Copyright AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic
By Alice Tidey
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Preliminary figures show 139,000 irregular migrants were detected at EU external borders last year — 92% lower than at the peak of the migrant crisis.

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Irregular migration detected at the external borders of the European Union was at its lowest level in six years in 2019, Frontex has revealed.

Preliminary data from the bloc's border and coast guard agency found that illegal border crossings along the EU's external borders dropped by 6% year on year to 139,000 last year, its lowest level since 2013.

"This is 92% below the record number set in 2015" when the migrant and refugee crisis was at its peak. Frontex flagged in a statement.

According to the agency, the decline is attributed to a 41% fall in the number of irregular migrants crossing the central Mediterranean — favoured by nationals of Tunisia and Sudan — and a 58% drop in those detected in the Western Mediterranean which is primarily used by Moroccans and Algerians.

However, the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkans routes "saw growing migratory pressure starting in the spring". This resulted in increases in the total number of detections of 46% for the former and over 50% for the latter. Afghans and Syrians were the most likely to use these two routes.

Overall, Afghans were the main nationality if newly arrived irregular migrants last year, accounting for nearly a quarter of all arrivals, nearly three times the amount recorded the previous year.

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