Illegal immigration rising sharply, says Frontex

EU borders agency says detection rate up 50% on last year, mainly because of migrants from north Africa.

The volume of illegal border crossings into the European Union has risen sharply this year, according to the EU’s border management agency Frontex. Detected illegal entries rose by 50% in the first three quarters of 2011 compared with the same period in 2010, Gil Arias Fernández, the deputy director of Frontex, said in Athens yesterday (16 November). He attributed the rise to the turmoil in north Africa earlier this year.

In all, 112,800 people were caught trying to enter the EU without authorisation in January-September, compared with 76,700 in the same period last year.

Most of the attempted crossings took place in the central Mediterranean, Arias Fernández said.

The area – the main conduit of migrants from north Africa – saw a dramatic decrease in arrivals in the third quarter of 2011 compared to the previous quarter, but were still five times the figure for the third quarter of 2010.

In October the number of arrivals from the central Mediterranean fell by 97% compared to September. Frontex attributed the decline to the rebel takeover in Libya, increased co-operation by Tunisia and worsening weather.

Detections at Greece’s land border with Turkey rose sharply in the last quarter, reaching 9,600 in October – an absolute record, despite the emergency deployment of Frontex border guards in the area a year ago.