Countries in the European Union stopped 330,000 illegal immigrants last year—the highest number since 2016 when Frontex counted about 2 million attempts to cross the border.

The number represented a jump of 64 percent from the year earlier.

Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, announced last week that there were 145,600 entry attempts over land in the Western Balkans and 102,529 by sea in the Central Mediterranean.

The Western Balkans route is frequently used by Albanians, Bosnians, and other countries in the Balkans. Adult males made up 80 percent of the attempts and individuals from Afghanistan, Syria, and Tunisia represented almost 50 percent of the crossing attempts.

A total of 71,000 illegal immigrants also attempted to cross the English Channel to reach the U.K. There were 50 different nationalities, including those from Albania, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

These countries are poor and have gotten poorer since the COVID-19 outbreak. 

In Afghanistan, over 90 percent of the population was food insecure in 2022, and tens of millions were forced to skip meals daily or endure whole days without eating, Human Rights Watch said.

Albanians suffered because of sanctions imposed on Russia and saw its inflation rate rise from 3.1 percent at the beginning of the year to 8 percent. The World Bank revised its GDP forecast in 2023 downward to 2.2 percent instead of 3.5 percent. 

Frontex did not count the 13 million Ukrainian refugees who crossed into the EU in the last year due to the Ukraine War. About 94,000 migrants arrived in the EU from Syria, which is double the amount in 2021.

TRENDPOST: The Trends Journal has reported extensively on how migration will continue to be a major problem for richer European countries as much of the world faces a financial downturn. (See “IMMIGRATION AT EU BORDER SOARING—NOT INCLUDING UKRAINIANS,” 26 Apr 2022.) We identified the problem as a TOP TREND of 2023 because it will likely give rise to anti-immigration movements in Europe because countries cannot sustain these numbers. 

We’ve already seen significant gains across Europe for political parties considered to be anti-immigrant. Besides Meloni, Marine Le Pen of France saw her highest level of support when she was defeated by Emmanuel Macron in April. A few months later, Sweden saw the rise of the Sweden Democrats, an anti-immigration party that secured 20.5 percent of the vote.

Frontex placed blame on climate change, food insecurity, and inequality in the global south.

“All the major causes of the food crisis are still with us—conflict, Covid, climate change, high fuel prices,” Cary Fowler, the U.S. special envoy for global food security, told CNN. “I do think we have to prepare for 2023 being a rough year.”

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization released its Food Price Index which showed its highest annual level on record, jumping more than 14 percent from 2021. The number of people experiencing food insecurity went from 135 million in 2021 to 345 million in 2022.

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