All migratory routes bound for the European Union registered decreases in the month of January except for the one that unites Africa and Canary Islands across the Atlantic. According to preliminary data from the European agency for external border control (Frontex), the number of immigrants who arrived irregularly decreased by a third in the first month of 2024 compared to the month of December, reaching almost 14,000 people, although Arrivals to the Canary Islands soared by 48%. This means that they arrived at the Canary archipelago 6,643 people irregularly, almost double that in December and 10 times more than a year ago.
This is the route that has been experiencing the greatest increase in irregular crossings. A trend that the agency, based in Warsaw, attributes to the “increase in demand for sub-Saharan immigrants” who transit through Mauritania with the intention of reaching European territory through the islands, a territory to which the President of the Commission paid an official visit last week, Ursula von der Leyenand the president of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sanchez, with the aim of strengthening collaboration and stopping the departure of cayucos. In exchange, both executives promised an amount of 500 million to promote its development.
“In recent months, human traffickers have been herding an increasing number of migrants in small wooden fishing boats known as cayucos, putting the lives of those on board at greater risk,” says Frontex in a statement in which it underlines its “commitment” to safeguarding the EU’s borders. According to the agency, they currently have with 170 Frontex agents and staff providing support to Spain in the Canary Islands and in the region of the Western Mediterranean. In total, the agency has 2,370 agents in various operations.
Declines in the rest
Except for the Atlantic, the rest of the routes registered significant decreases. In the case of Central Mediterraneanarrivals fell by 71% and 1,533 people arrived, mainly from Tunisia, Bangladesh and Syria. Arrivals to Spain through the country also fell by 66%. Western Mediterranean which caused 624 people to be intercepted in January while the reduction in Eastern Mediterraneanbetween Türkiye and Greece, was 41% with 3,995 intercepted. The same trend occurred in Western Balkan route with a drop of 30% (740 people intercepted), on the border between Belarus and the Baltic republics with a drop of 2% (269 people intercepted) and in the English Channel with a reduction of 4% and 3,168 people intercepted trying to enter the United Kingdom.