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Refugees after being rescued by the Spanish Coast Guard


In the first seven months of 2023, 176,100 people tried to enter the EU irregularly. This was the highest value since 2016 for this period, as the EU border protection agency Frontex announced on Friday in Warsaw. In July alone, Frontex registered 42,700 such attempts, more than at any time since March 2016. Compared to the same month last year, this was an increase of 19 percent.

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More than half of the entry attempts (89,047) were reportedly on the route via the central Mediterranean, i.e. from Libya and Tunisia via Sicily and Malta. Here, the number has more than doubled. The increased migratory pressure on this route could continue in the coming months, according to Frontex, as smugglers offer lower prices for the Mediterranean passage in the face of fierce competition between criminal groups.

On all other routes, however, the number of attempted unauthorized entries decreased. This also applies to the route via the Western Balkans, which was second only to the route via the Central Mediterranean Passage with 52,200 irregular entry attempts detected. Here, the decline was 26 percent compared to the same period last year. Frontex attributes this to stricter visa regulations in the Balkan countries.

Most recently, the EU and Tunisia had reached an agreement to prevent people from fleeing to Europe. For search and rescue operations at sea and the repatriation of people, the EU Commission wants to make 100 million euros available to the North African country this year. In total, the EU held out the prospect of a good 900 million euros in aid. The agreement caused a lot of criticism. Some European institutions and 13 EU Member States criticised the way in which the agreement signed on 16 July was reached between and the human rights situation in Tunisia.