Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off your first 2 months of Unlimited Monthly. Start your subscription for just £29.99 £19.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Irregular border crossings to the EU

This video provides an overview of the marked increase in the irregular migration across the Mediterranean Sea to the EU in recent years.
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.
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.
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.
Many continue their journey by land across the Balkans and reach Germany or other central European countries, where they apply for refugee status.

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.

This article is from the free online

Why Do People Migrate? Facts

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now