2 February 2015
Although some data are still missing for December 2014, the number of detections of illegal border-crossing in 2014 as a whole totalled about 278 000. This is two and a half times larger than the year before (107 000) and twice as much as in 2011 (141 000) during the initial stages of the Arab Spring. This increase is mostly connected to the increasing number of refugees and displaced people worldwide, related to the ongoing conflict in Syria and its spread to Iraq, which have created the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.
Following recent increases, in December 2014 Kosovo nationals were for the first time the migrants most commonly detected illegally crossing the external border of the EU/Schengen area, accounting for a massive 40% of total detections. This trend has been linked with rumours among the Kosovo population that France’s decision to remove Kosovo from the national list of safe countries will make it much more straightforward to obtain asylum in this Member State.
Kosovans and Afghans were the only two major nationalities that were detected more frequently in December than in November, which stands in marked contrast with the normal seasonal decreases seen at this time of year. Both nationalities were mostly detected on the Western Balkan route while attempting to illegally enter Hungary from Serbia. At this border, detections in December reached a record of more than 12 000 detections, compared to about 7 500 in November 2014.
On the Central Mediterranean route, detections totalled more than 6 700, a decrease compared to November (~9 400), but still considerably higher than a year ago in December 2013 (~2 700). Each year between November and March, detections tend to be lower than in any other period as winter conditions make it more difficult to cross the border and to travel over long distances in general, especially in Europe.