Number of Illegal Immigrants to EU Grows Sharply in 2013 – Frontex

African migrants are seen in their dormitory at a detention center, in Zawiya, 50 km west Tripoli, Libya, 12 May 2014. Photo by EPA/SABRI ELMHEDWI.

Illegal border crossing at the EU external borders increased sharply in 2013, rising to over 107,000 from 75,000 in 2012, an EU agency reports.

The number of Syrians detected at the EU borders accounted for almost a quarter of all arrivals in 2013 and at 25,500 was almost three times the 2012 figure, according to the annual risk analysis of the EU's borders agency, Frontex.

Syrians were also the commonest nationality detected for illegal entry in most border areas and headed the list for requests for international protection. More than two thirds of all such applications by Syrians were submitted in Sweden, Germany and Bulgaria.

The Central Mediterranean area was the main entry point to Europe for irregular migrants, particularly during the second half of the year. With over 40,000 arrivals recorded, the Central Mediterranean route accounted for 38% of all detections of irregular migration at EU level. But while this figure constitutes a significant increase on 2012, it is still lower than during the 2011 Arab Spring when 59,000 migrants arrived in Italy. This route also saw several major incidents of boats capsizing and sinking, including the October tragedy off the coast of Lampedusa that claimed lives of over 360 people.

While Syrians and Egyptians departed for Italy primarily from Egypt in 2013, migrants from the Horn of Africa and West Africa departed mostly from Libya. Among African migrants, Eritreans were by far the most numerously detected, with over 11,000 arrivals, representing a four-fold increase on 2012. To reach Italy, migrants from the Horn of Africa typically used a perilous route across the Sahara, travelling onward through Libya.

On the Western Mediterranean route, detections at the Greek...

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