Illegal Migrant Sea Crossings to Europe in 2018 Break 55,000

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Migrant sea crossings to Europe in 2018 have broken 55,000, with Spain outstripping Italy and Greece as the number one point of arrival for the first time following the installation of a Socialist government in Madrid.

Numbers overall are down from 2017, 2016, and 2015, when German chancellor Angela Merkel’s open door invitation to ‘refugees’ from Syria saw hordes of illegal migrants from a host of different countries surge across Europe’s poorly guarded maritime and internal borders.

The measures which have been deployed to bring the external border under control — namely deals with the Islamist government in Turkey and Libya’s precariously positioned authorities to stop more boats from departing — do not offer long-term solutions to the migrant crisis, with the EU’s security depending largely upon the goodwill of erratic and unstable third countries.

Source: UN Migration Agency/International Organization for Migration

There are significant signs of strain on the Western Mediterranean Route through Greece and, less often, Bulgaria — where the border is patrolled aggressively by both the state and civilian militias — as migrants exploit the Greco-Turkish land border marked by the Evros river.

This border was not included in the multi-billion euro EU-Turkey deal, and migrants who cross it are not included in the UN Migration Agency/International Organization for Migration totals above as, while people-smugglers do generally bring migrants across the Evros by boat, they are not technically sea crossings.

The IoM sea figures also exclude land crossings via Ceuta and Melilla, two Spanish exclaves on the coast of North Africa, which are frequent targets of massed assaults by groups of African migrants.

These are can be extremely violent, with around 600 out of an estimated 700 successfully breaking through Ceuta’s perimeter with Morocco on July 26th after blinding border guards with burning quicklime and cutting through fences with homemade blowtorches and battery-powered radial saws.

It should be noted that the official figures only include illegal migrants the authorities are able to log, and that EU border states such as Greece and Italy have been accused of failing to register many of the people crossing their frontiers.

The bloc’s so-called Dublin regulations only allow EU members to deport illegal migrants coming from elsewhere in the EU to the very first member-state they arrived in, disincentivising border states registering them in the first place.

Indeed, the Dutch government has suggested that some two-thirds of illegal migrants who reach them have not previously been registered — suggesting the true migration figures could be far higher than the IoM numbers suggest.

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