The head of the European Union (EU) border agency Frontex has warned that over 800,000 people have entered the EU as “irregular” arrivals since the beginning of 2015 and more are on the way. Europe’s frontiers therefore need strengthening with more border guards and new laws to cope with a crisis pushing the EU ever closer to total disintegration.
Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri made that prescription when he told the German newspaper Bild that the human tide now engulfing Europe required a heightened bureaucratic response from Brussels and that some “irregular” migrants without the right to asylum should also be “locked up if necessary” pending deportation.
“Anyone who has entered illegally and has no right to asylum must quickly be sent back to his homeland,” Mr. Leggeri added.
Under EU law, it’s possible to keep irregular migrants in detention for up to 18 months to organise their return home.
Mr. Leggeri said that the figure of 800,000 arrivals was only provisional, as tens of thousands more people were on their way from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, with the high point of arrivals “not yet reached”.
“We have so far registered more than 800,000 irregular border crossings. Still many more people are making their way here. I’m afraid we have not yet peaked. The EU countries need to prepare themselves, that we still have a very difficult situation in front of us in the coming months, ” he said.
Raw data compiled by Frontex highlights the sheer weight of humanity now pressing on Europe with migrants responding to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s offer in August to take any and all people who turn up and request asylum.
Germany has seen its number of entrants soar (see right) but it is far from alone. In 2015, the Swedish refugee intake will be close to 200,000 people, twice what was estimated only a few months ago.
The biggest problem highlighted by Mr. Leggeri is a perceived lack of bureaucrats available to process the arrivals. He said:
“We are particularly lacking staff. On October 2, we asked the Member States [for] 775 border guards. We have been received to date 326. That’s not enough! Frontex has so far 320 employees at its headquarters in Warsaw, 220 guest officers in Greece and 357 in Italy.
“If we want to do our tasks, we need 1500 border guards. Then we could set up their own teams that would be quick to deploy anywhere in the EU without begging with the member countries for their support. “
Last month, Frontex said that 710,000 people had entered the EU in the first nine months of the year but cautioned that many people had been counted twice. The agency said on October 13 that “irregular border crossings may be attempted by the same person several times”.
In October alone, more than 218,000 people crossed the Mediterranean for Europe, the UN reported on Monday – a record for 2015 and more than arrived in all of 2014.
On Wednesday, the first set of 30 migrants left Greece for Luxembourg under an EU plan to redistribute people throughout the 28-member bloc in order to ease pressure on countries like Greece and Italy.
The bloc hopes to transfer some 160,000 people under the plan.