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This content is taken from the European University Institute (EUI)'s online course, Why Do People Migrate? Facts. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 11 seconds A great number of people migrating to the EU cross the borders irregularly. The external borders of the EU have changed a lot through the years, due to the various enlargements and continue to change. Today, they look like this. The 1990s have seen the Mediterranean Sea become the main area for irregular border crossings, turning it into the deadliest route for migrants. These mixed flows include people in search of work, people wanting to reunify with their family in Europe, or people applying for refugee status. Researchers have identified three trajectories across the Mediterranean– the Western route begins in West Africa, crossing the Canary Islands or Morocco to arrive in Spain.

Skip to 1 minute and 0 seconds Today, due to reinforced controls in Spain and Morocco, this route plays a very marginal role. As for the central Mediterranean routes, the oldest is the one used during the 1990s by Albanians to reach Italy. Since 2002, harbours in Libya and Tunisia have become main points of departure for Italy or Malta. Migrants who choose these routes are often young men, sometimes families with children, who cross the desert coming from Western and Eastern sub-Saharan Africa.

Skip to 1 minute and 37 seconds The number of people travelling via central Mediterranean routes has continued to increase through the years, reaching a record number of 170,000 people in 2014. Looking only at the Italian island of Lampedusa, which has been and still is the first shore for many migrants, arrivals by boat reach the number of 150,000 in 2015. With more than 700,000 arrivals, the eastern Mediterranean route has outnumbered all the other ones in 2015. This is, in fact, the preferred route for refugees from Syria and Iraq, but also from East Africa. Turkey and Egypt have become the main points for departure of boats, directed primary to Italy and the Greek islands. Migrants arrive to Greece also crossing the river Evros.

Skip to 2 minutes and 32 seconds Many continue their journey by land across the Balkans and reach Germany or other central European countries, where they apply for refugee status.

Irregular border crossings to the EU

In this video we look at how irregular migration to the European Union has changed over the last two decades, with a specific focus on the three different main routes across the Mediterranean Sea.

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This video is from the free online course:

Why Do People Migrate? Facts

European University Institute (EUI)