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Migration: almost 200,000 migrants arrived in the EU in 2021


Almost 200,000 illegal migrants arrived in the European Union (EU) in the last year, the highest number since 2017, the European border control agency Frontex announced today, adding that the illegal migration flow has returned to pre-pandemic levels.

The number of illegal arrivals was 57% higher than in 2020, when restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic drastically reduced migration, but also 36% more than in 2019, Frontex said in a statement.

The number of illegal arrivals to the EU in 2021, “just under 200,000”, is now higher “than pre-pandemic levels”, added the Warsaw-based agency.

“This suggests that factors other than the lifting of restrictions on global mobility are behind the increase in migratory pressure,” Frontex said.

In 2021, a new factor was the influx of migrants, mainly from the Middle East, through Belarus, in what the EU considers an operation orchestrated by the Minsk regime.

Frontex also observed a sharp increase in migrant arrivals through the central Mediterranean, the Western Balkans and Cyprus.

The main route for migrants was the central Mediterranean, where 65,362 illegal migrants arrived, about a third of the total. From one year to the next, the increase was 83% on that route, according to Frontex.

The Western Balkans saw an increase of 124% compared to 2020, reaching 60,540 illegal migrants. In Cyprus, 14,400 arrivals were registered, 123% more than in the previous year.

Last year, Syrians were the most numerous among illegal migrants, followed by Tunisians, Moroccans, Algerians and Afghans.

The Italian authorities today immobilized in the south of Sicily, in Italy, the humanitarian ship “Ocean Viking”, of the non-governmental organization (NGO) SOS Méditerranée, after verifying a series of anomalies on the deck that must be resolved before it can sail again. in the Mediterranean Sea.

SOS Méditerranée explained that the vessel underwent an 11-hour inspection on Monday and was then immobilized in the Sicilian port of Trapani, where it arrived on December 25 to disembark the last 114 migrants rescued from the sea.

Last year, the “Ocean Viking” rescued 2,832 people in 33 rescue operations, the NGO said in a statement.

The NGO recalled that the administrative blockade of the vessel arises after it was immobilized in July 2020 for months due to deficiencies different from the current ones.

This time, the problem has to do with a series of structures located on the aft deck that have been added to house migrants and store the equipment needed for rescue work.

“We regret the extreme rigor applied in the inspections of our ship. This inspection is the sixth that the “Ocean Viking” has undergone since the start of its operations in the central Mediterranean in August 2019”, said SOS Méditerranée.

According to the director-general of the NGO in Italy, Valéria Taurino, SOS Méditerranée has now been “forced” to postpone its operations.

The NGO explained that, during the inspection, it was found that “the structures added to the ship to house the survivors and with the necessary equipment for the rescue work should be registered in a different category”.

“Humanitarian ships like the “Ocean Viking”, which fill the void left by European states, are essential to prevent these shipwrecks,” said Fabienne Lassalle, deputy director general of SOS Méditerranée France, quoted in a statement.

More than 67,000 migrants landed in Italy in 2021, most from North Africa, in improvised or often overcrowded boats, according to data published on December 31 by the Italian Ministry of the Interior.