The European Union border agency Frontex has said that the number of migrants entering its territory increased by 68 per cent in 2021, with numbers in Italy nearly doubling.

Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri spoke at a Schengen Parliamentary Committee this week, stating that the EU had seen a boom in the number of new illegal entries compared to last year.

“In 2021, 134,000 foreigners entered the EU clandestinely, 68 per cent more than in 2020,” Leggeri said, and noted a particular surge in the central Mediterranean, newspaper Il Giornale reports.

“In the central Mediterranean, which particularly affects Italy, we see an 87 per cent increase in landings since the beginning of the year,” he said, adding that “Arrivals from Libya and Tunisia have doubled. We have recorded 48,000 entries.”

According to Il Giornale, the largest number of illegal migrants originate from Tunisia, at some 13,371 people, with Bangladeshi and Egyptian nationals following them.

Earlier this week, Leggeri also visited the Polish border with Belarus, which has also seen a surge of illegal migrant arrivals in recent weeks as Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko drives primarily African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian migrants to the EU’s common external border as revenge for member-states’ support of his opponents.

The situation led the Polish government to declare a state of emergency in the area that has since been extended and remains in effect, and Leggeri stated that he was impressed by the Polish reaction to the crisis and the government’s cooperation with Frontex.

On Friday, reports claimed that Belarusian forces opened fire on Polish troops at the border, but no one was reported hurt in the incident.

A migration wave from Afghanistan following the fall of the country to the Taliban has also been a major concern for the EU in recent weeks, but so far, according to Leggeri, a truly significant wave is yet to materialise.

“We are very careful because we know that in Iran, Pakistan, Turkey there are many Afghans and these millions of people could be tempted to come to the European Union because they can no longer be repatriated to Afghanistan,” Leggeri said.

“The number of potential terrorists using migration flows is numerically limited, but the simple fact that it exists is serious,” he added.

The possibility of terrorists among Afghan migrants was highlighted early on by a member of the Spanish populist party VOX, who noted that the Taliban had released many radical Islamic extremists from local prisons.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)