The European Union has seen a dramatic increase in illegal migration at its external borders in recent months, with a 59% increase over 2020 so far.
Frontex, the European Union’s border and coast guard agency, reported that there were 17,300 illegal border crossings in July, 33% higher than July 2020, and a slight increase over June, when there were 14,600 illegal crossings detected.
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Overall, there have been 82,000 illegal crossings in the first seven months of 2021, more than 59% higher than the same period in 2020.
One of the largest increases was seen on the Central Mediterranean route. While the 7,600 crossings in July were in line with July 2020, overall there have been 30,000 crossings in 2021 — a 96% increase over the same time last year. The majority of migrants came from Tunisia, Bangladesh and Egypt.
On the Western African route, there have been 7,350 crossings, a 130% increase over last year — where most migrants came from sub-Saharan countries.
On the Western Balkans route, there were 3,600 detections in July, a 67% increase over July last year, and 90% over last year. The E.U. agency noted that the majority of those migrants came from Syria and Afghanistan.
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The only area where crossings decreased was in the Eastern Mediterranean, where there has been a 33% decrease in border crossings.
The continent was hit hard by a migrant crisis in 2015, after a migratory wave came from Syria and elsewhere, overwhelming resources and governments. The crisis eventually led to increased border security measures across the continent, and is seen as having contributed to the political victories for a number of right-wing parties and causes in the subsequent years.
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Reuters reported this week that a number of E.U. states are nervous about the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have captured vast swaths of territory in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal, and fear that it could lead to another migratory wave — and another migrant crisis in Europe.
Such a wave would echo the crisis being seen in the U.S., where there has been a dramatic spike in migrant encounters that has led the Biden administration to declare that the numbers being seen at the border are “unsustainable.”