According to preliminary figures collected by Frontex, the total number of illegal border-crossings in 2021 was just short of 200 000, the highest number since 2017.
Around one in ten of all detected irregular crossings in 2021 occurred on the Eastern Mediterranean route, where the number was roughly on par with the same period of 2020.
However, while detections continue to drop in Greece, Cyprus recorded a significant increase in the migratory flow compared to previous years. Detections in Cyprus (around 10 400 in total in 2021, more than double (123%) the same period in 2020) notably increased in the last quarter of 2021 linked to a higher share of Africans among the detected migrants.
This is an increase of 36% when compared with 2019 and an increase of 57% compared with 2020 when we could observe a strong impact of COVID-19 restrictions. This suggests that factors other than the lifting of restrictions on global mobility are the cause of increased migratory pressure.
One such factor defining 2021 was undoubtedly the situation at the borders to Belarus, making it another year in which migration was used in a hybrid operation targeting the EU external border.
In 2021, Syrians remained the most frequently reported nationality of the people detected when crossing the border without permission, followed by Tunisians, Moroccans, Algerians and Afghans.
Just as in 2020, women continued to make up fewer than one in ten arrivals in 2021, a significant drop in their share compared to 2019. As regards other groups of vulnerable people, the reported share of minors was largely unchanged, as was that of unaccompanied minors.