At least 107,000 were detected while trying to enter the EU illegally in 2013, an EU agency has reported. The number almost doubled from 2012 when only 75,000 tried to illegally cross the EU external borders.
Most of those detected were Syrians, Eritreans and Afghans, said the EU’s borders agency, Frontex.
Last year saw a significant increase in the number of Syrians arriving in the EU. There was also a steady flow of migrants departing from North Africa and heading across the Mediterranean to Italy.
The same year also saw a sharp increase in detections of irregular migrants on the Western Balkan route.
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.
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.
Migrant flows across the Central Mediterranean to Italy, and to a lesser extent Malta, were heaviest between July and October, reaching a peak in September.
Arrivals continued in Italy throughout October and November despite rough sea conditions, which usually prevent sea crossings at that time of 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.
( Courtesy News Africa & AGENCIES ……… Source …….. Our Freelance Contributor in London)