Illegal Migration into EU Up 59 Per Cent in First Six Months of 2021
The number of illegal migrants entering European Union member states has increased by 59 per cent in the first six months of this year, as a new route has opened along the border with Belarus.
A report from the EU border agency Frontex has stated that in the first six months of 2021, there were 61,000 illegal crossings into the bloc, noting that much of the increase can be explained by countries easing travel restrictions.
The largest increase in illegal migration was seen in the Western Balkan route, where 18,600 migrants entered the EU illegally, a 92 per cent increase on the year before, Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung reports.
Frontex also estimates that the rise in migrant arrivals in Malta and Italy can be explained by the increase in people smuggling activity in the central Mediterranean.
Over the last few months, Italy has seen a surge in illegal migrant arrivals, both from independent migrant boats landing and migrant taxi NGOs vessels dropping off hundreds of migrants at a time.
Last week, the French-based NGO SOS Mediterranee demanded to drop off nearly 600 migrants in Sicily after arguing that their food supplies were running glow. Just days later, the Italian government allowed the ship to do so.
The Italian island of Lampedusa, which lies between Sicily and Tunisia, has also seen a surge of new arrivals in recent days, with a report from last week noting that over the course of a single weekend, over 500 migrants arrived on the island, which was already overcrowded.
Over the last few weeks, a new front in the European migrant crisis has emerged in EU member Lithuania and has led to the country’s government declaring a state of emergency.
The country’s Deputy Interior Minister Arnoldas Abramavičius this week called on the EU to act and prevent new crossings, which have increased by ten times compared to last year.
The Lithuanian government has also accused the Belarussian government, headed by Aleksandr Lukashenko, of helping migrants cross the border illegally in retaliation to EU sanctions.