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The Western Balkan route is now the number one preferred route for smuggling illegal and irregular migrants into the EU, according to new data from Frontex, the EU border guard agency.
The number of irregular entries into Europe increased by 82% during the first half of 2022 compared to the same period last year. Half of those crossing, or 40,675 illegal entries, came through the Western Balkan route.
“This is nearly three times the figure from the same period of last year. The main nationalities on this route included Syrians and Afghans. Most of the people detected had been in the Western Balkans already for some time before seeking to enter the EU,” according to Frontex.
Illegal crossing increased also along the Eastern Mediterranean route and the Eastern border, but remained relatively stable across the Central Mediterranean route.
As concerns the English Channel, exits toward the UK increased by 122%, with Albanian nationals marking a sharp increase in numbers since mid-April.
The data calculated by Frontex excludes Ukrainian refugees.
“According to the latest Frontex data, more than 5.5 million Ukrainian citizens have entered the EU from Ukraine and Moldova since the beginning of invasion in February,” the report states.
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