With Highest Arrivals Since 2016, Europe Saw a Silent Migrant Crisis in 2022

CATANIA, ITALY - NOVEMBER 14: The migrants on the Italian-flagged tugboat 'Macistonè
Getty Images

2022 saw the largest number of illegal entries into the European Union since the height of the 2015-2016 migrant crisis, on top of the wave of millions of Ukrainian refugees fleeing their country’s conflict with Russia.

Frontex, the European Union border agency, released figures in December showing the number of migrants arriving illegally in the European Union in the first eleven months of the year, stating that over 308,000 non-Ukrainian migrants have been detected crossing the border, the largest number since 2016.

Yet despite the surging numbers of arrivals through the various clandestine migrant routes, this crisis has received far lower attention from the establishment media than the 2015-16 surge did, suggesting European peoples may have been distracted by the plight of Ukrainian refugees, or that European governments have worked harder to absorb immigrants and keep them out of the newspapers.

There are several major migrant routes to Europe, but by far the most activity in 2022 has been the Western Balkan route, which served as the main migrant route during the 2015-2016 migrant crisis.

The Western Balkan Route

According to Frontex, 139,525 migrants have been detected entering the European Union illegally along the Balkan Route in the first eleven months of 2022, an increase of 152 per cent compared to 2021, with the month of November seeing a doubling of entries compared to November of last year.

“The sustained migratory pressure on the Western Balkans route can be attributed to repeated attempts to cross the border by migrants already present in the region, and the fact that some migrants abuse visa-free access to the region to approach the EU external borders. At the end of November, Serbia has restricted its visa regime which is expected to reduce the numbers of illegal crossings,” Frontex said.

The effects of the increase have been seen in many countries along the route, such as the Czech Republic, which reported a 1,200 per cent increase in illegal arrivals in October, as Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan called on the European Union to do more to deal with the ongoing crisis.

Some progress has been made between Hungary, Austria, and Serbia, who held several talks this year on migration, agreeing to strengthen cooperation to tackle illegal entries as Austrian police will be deployed to reinforce Serbian border police on the country’s southern border and help provide Serbians with drones and other surveillance gear.

The Central Mediterranean Route

Behind the Balkan Route, the Central Mediterranean has seen the most migrant traffic this year, passing 100,000 illegal entries to Italy in December, according to statistics from the Italian Interior Ministry, the first time such a number has been seen since 2017.

The vast majority of the arrivals to Italy have been across the Mediterranean Sea by boat, with over 10,000 coming by way of migrant taxi NGOs picking up migrants off the coast of North Africa. NGO activity has been described as a pull factor by Frontex, who allege NGO activity increases the chances of migrants attempting the often dangerous journey.

While the Central Mediterranean is not the busiest route overall, it is the deadliest and people smugglers have led many to their deaths in 2022, including young children. In September, two Syrian children aged just one and two years old died of thirst aboard a boat that arrived in Italy along with four adults who also died on the journey.

Following the September national elections, new Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her centre-right coalition have promised to tackle people smugglers and stop migrant taxi NGO activities but so far, numbers of arrivals have continued at a rapid pace and show little signs of slowing down.

The Western Mediterranean Route/West African Route

The two main routes to Spain, the West African route to the Canary Islands and the Western Mediterranean route to Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Spanish North African exclaves of Melilla and Ceuta, are two of the only three routes to see a decrease compared to last year.

A total of 13,672 arrivals were recorded in the Western Mediterranean, while the route to the Canary Islands saw 14,747 in the first eleven months of this year. The Canary Island route, much like the Central Mediterranean, is known for being incredibly dangerous and sees the majority of deaths of migrants trying to reach Spanish territory, with over a thousand deaths reported in the Atlantic Ocean this year, underlining the deadly trade people smugglers ply and the importance of fighting illegal immigration to reduce avoidable human suffering.

A mass border crossing incident also took place in the Spanish exclave of Melilla earlier this year in North Africa, along the border with Morocco involving around 2,000 people. At least 23 migrants, all African men, died trying to illegally enter the city.

Eastern Mediterranean

The Eastern Mediterranean route, which was the main route along with the Balkan route, during the migrant crisis of 2015-2016, saw a 116 per cent increase in illegals in the first eleven months of 2022 for a total of 39,850 arrivals.

The increase in arrivals comes despite the Greek government building a border fence along its border with Turkey, which the Greek government stated in August it would be extending to the entire land border with Turkey.

Greece, like Italy, has seen NGO activity surrounding illegal migration and in October, Greek authorities launched an investigation into allegations of NGOs working directly with people smugglers from Turkey.

Ukrainian Crisis

The conflict in Ukraine has also led to millions of Ukrainian refugees seeking protection in the European Union, which on top of the surge of illegal immigrants, has pushed the limits of many countries to find housing for all of the new arrivals.

In Germany, a country that is often the goal of many illegals, many regions have reported they no longer have any capacity to house incoming migrants, with 123 of the 16 German states saying they were completely full in September. This is on top of the number of illegal border crossings from elsewhere to Germany near-doubling this year on last.

Austria, which has seen a surge of arrivals due to the increased activity along the Balkan Route and has taken in many Ukrainian refugees, has also expressed similar problems and recently set up tent camps to house incoming asylum seekers, claiming in November that 90,000 asylum claims had been made in 2022. In Vienna, a former luxury hotel was also used to house Ukrainians.

Poland, which borders Ukraine, saw by far the most Ukrainian refugee arrivals in the European Union, with numbers reported in the millions.

However, while many Ukrainians have returned to their country since the start of the conflict, the sheer number has strained Poland’s ability to house refugees and the government announced in December that it would be charging Ukrainians around 10 euros per day for beds in refugee accommodations in order to offset costs.

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



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