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Arrival of migrants in Europe reaches record in six years

In this file photo, migrants wait for food in Bihac, Bosnia, near the border with Croatia, on November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Amel Emric, File)
In this file photo, migrants wait for food in Bihac, Bosnia, near the border with Croatia, on November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Amel Emric, File)

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union recorded 330,000 unauthorized migrant entry attempts last year, the highest number since 2016, the bloc’s border and coast guard agency said Friday.

Almost half of the attempts in 2022 were by land through the Balkan region, Frontex explained based on its “preliminary calculations”. Regardless of the route of entry, Syrians, Afghans and Tunisians together accounted for almost 47% of attempts to enter the bloc.

In 80% of the cases they were men, said the agency, which calculates entry attempts instead of the number of people trying to reach Europe because it is often difficult to identify migrants, who often travel without a passport. , and because some can try several times.

Those who arrive at the European border to request asylum have a reasonable chance of being allowed to enter, while the majority of those who do so without a visa in search of a job and a better life are turned away.

More than a million people, mostly Syrians fleeing war in their country, arrived in the EU in 2015, overwhelming reception centers and sparking one of the biggest political crises in the 27-nation bloc.

Member countries are still arguing over who should take responsibility for caring for people who arrive without proper documentation and whether their neighbors and partners should be obliged to help. Attempts to reform the bloc’s asylum system have made little headway.

The latest Frontex figures do not include the almost 13 million Ukrainian refugees counted at the EU’s external borders between February and December. Brussels applied extraordinary social emergency measures to facilitate their entry and help them find accommodation, training and jobs in the short term.

The number of people embarking on potentially lethal voyages across the Mediterranean Sea in ill-prepared and overloaded boats and inflatable rafts continued to rise last year. According to Frontex data, there were more than 100,000 entry attempts, approximately 50% more than in 2021.

Egyptians, Tunisians and Bangladeshis were the ones who tried the most in this way. In 2022, the five-year record for arrivals from Libya, the main departure point in North Africa, was broken, the agency added. Departures from Tunisia reached their highest level in recent history.

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