Detections in Central Mediterranean tripled in the first 3 months of 2023


In the first three months of 2023, the number of irregular border crossings reported by national authorities increased to 54 000, 26% more than in the same period last year. The Central Mediterranean and Western Balkan routes remain the most active.

In March, more than 22 500 irregular border crossings were detected at EU’s external borders*, 60% more than a year ago.

More than 2 400 standing corps officers and Frontex staff are taking part in operational activities protecting EU’s external borders and supporting EU member states and neighbouring countries facing various challenges at the external borders.

Key developments

  • 54 000 irregular border crossings detected in the first three months of 2023
  • Central Mediterranean route accounts for more than half of all irregular border crossings into the EU
  • Nationals of Syria, Cote dÍvoire and Guinea account for the largest number of detections

Top migratory routes

The Central Mediterranean was the most active route in the first quarter of the year with nearly 28 000 irregular border crossings, three times the number from a year ago. In March, the total detections on this route increased almost nine-fold compared to last year to more than 13 000.

Organised crime groups took advantage of better weather and political volatility in some countries of departure to try to smuggle as many migrants as possible across the Central Mediterranean from Tunisia and Libya.

Western Balkans remains the second most active migratory route with nearly 15 000 detections, although it continues to see smaller numbers than a year ago. The decline can be attributed to the visa-policy alignments in the region with the EU and the reinforcement of border control capacities by Hungary.

The number of irregular crossings in the English Channel towards the UK in the first quarter fell 15% from a year ago to 7 400 (detections on both sides of the Channel). This temporary decrease can be attributed to unfavourable sea condition.

 Note: The preliminary data presented in this statement refer to the number of detections of irregular border-crossing at the external borders of the European Union. The same person may cross the border several times in different locations at the external border.



March 2023

Jan- Mar 2023

Jan-Mar 2022/ Jan-Mar 2023

Top Nationalities

(Jan – Mar 2023)

Central Mediterranean

13 223

27 651


Cote dÍvoiry, Guinea, Pakistan

Western Balkans

6 181

14 858


Syria, Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan

Eastern Mediterranean

1 899

6 011


Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan

Western African


2 219


Morocco, Cote dÍvoiry, Senegal

Western Mediterranean


1 946


Morocco, Algeria, Syria

Eastern Border


1 121


Ukraine, Syria, Iran

Exits towards the UK

1 888

7 419


Afghanistan, Syria, India


*The figure includes other less active migratory routes not mentioned in this press release. The final figures may be higher due to delayed reporting.

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