Brussels — The number of migrants trying to enter the European Union without authorization last year reached around 330,000, the highest number since 2016, the EU’s border and coast guard agency said on Friday. Almost half of the attempts in 2022 were made overland via the Western Balkans region, the EU agency Frontex said, according to its “preliminary calculations”. Regardless of the route of entry of Syrians, Afghans and Tunisians together accounted for approximately 47% of border crossing attempts.

Men account for more than 80% of infiltration attempts, according to Frontex. The agency counts entry attempts rather than the number of people trying to enter Europe because it is often difficult to identify migrants who usually travel without passports and some may try to enter multiple times. People who arrive at Europe’s borders to apply for asylum have a reasonable chance of being let through, while those who arrive without a visa in search of work and a better life are mostly turned away.

More than 1 million people, most of them Syrians are fleeing the conflictwhich joined the EU in 2015, overloading reception centers and calling one of the bloc’s 27 countries the biggest political crises.

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Member states are still arguing over who should be responsible for people arriving without permission and whether their neighbors and partners should be obliged to help. Attempts to reform the bloc’s asylum system have not made much progress.

The latest Frontex figures do not include the nearly 13 million Ukrainian refugees who were registered at the EU’s external borders between February and December. Special emergency measures were put in place to facilitate their entry and help them find accommodation, training and short-term work.

Number of people potentially earning dangerous journeys in the Mediterranean Sea in poorly equipped and often overloaded boats and dinghies continued to rise last year. Frontex reported that more than 100,000 attempts to cross the territory were recorded, which is about 50% more than in 2021.

Egyptians, Tunisians and Bangladeshis tried the most. The agency said that in 2022, the most people in the past five years arrived from Libya, the main point of departure in northern Africa. The number of people leaving Tunisia has reached its highest level in recent history.

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