Nearly 200,000 illegal migrants arrived in the European Union last year, the highest number since 2017, the European Border Police and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) announced on Tuesday, reports AFP. Most of the illegal migrants registered in 2021 were Syrians, followed by Tunisians, Moroccans, Algerians and Afghans.

The number of illegal arrivals increased by 57% compared to 2020, when restrictions imposed by the new coronavirus pandemic drastically reduced the arrival of migrants, but is 36% higher than before 2019, before the pandemic, according to a Frontex statement , which is based in Warsaw. “This suggests that the source of the increase in migratory pressure is other factors than lifting restrictions,” Frontex notes.

One such new factor was last year’s influx of migrants from Belarus, mostly from the Middle East, into what the European Union believes was a Minsk-orchestrated operation. The agency also noted a massive increase in migrant arrivals via the Central Mediterranean, the Western Balkans and Cyprus.

The Central Mediterranean was the main route used by illegal migrants in 2021, with 65,362 arrivals, almost a third of the total and an increase of 83% over the previous year.

But the Western Balkans also saw an increase of 124% compared to 2020, with 60,540 arrivals of illegal migrants.

There were 10,400 arrivals in Cyprus, 123% more than in the previous year.

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