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17th Nov 2019

Frontex double counts migrants entering EU

  • The number of detected crossings into the EU is likely to be much lower than those cited by Frontex (Photo: Frontex)

The number of migrants crossing into the EU is likely to be much lower than that cited by the EU's border agency, Frontex.

The Warsaw-based agency said in a tweet on Tuesday (13 October) that it double counts detections.

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“Monthly figures includes all detections @ EU external borders. People arriving in Greece would again be counted entering Hungary".

The tweet followed a press statement by the agency that stated: "the total number of migrants who crossed the EU’s external borders in the first nine months of this year rose to more than 710,000".

The agency then points out that 282,000 were recorded for the whole of last year.

It then refers to the "total number of migrants" as detections, failing to note that some are double counted.

The detail was instead mentioned on its Twitter account after a request for clarification.

The majority of people seeking asylum in the EU first cross into Greece and then through the Western Balkans before entering a second time into Hungary.

Some are known to have made multiple attempts to cross into Hungary.

It is also possible that some may have made other attempts at crossing into the EU at the Croatian border after first being rejected at the Hungarian border.

When pressed, Frontex did not provide figures at the time of writing on how many were detected twice over the same period.

It said that in 2015, Hungary registered 13 times more detections compared to the same period as last year. It is unclear how many were counted twice.

It also noted an “estimated 97,000 people, not yet included in the official figures, also entered the EU through Croatia in the second half of September after Hungary sealed its border with Serbia”.

More agents, more money

Frontex executive director Fabrice Leggeri, for his part, wants member states to send more border guards to help screen and debrief arriving asylum seekers in Italy and Greece.

“I do hope we receive adequate contributions which will show the true spirit of European solidarity”, he said in a statement.

Leggeri said the additional borders are needed to deal with “unprecedented flows.”

The agency has seen a series of budget hikes in the past year.

At the start of year, it received €114 million and then received a €27 million injection in April.

Leggeri in September said they are now set to get €176 million next year, a 54 percent budget hike.

Proposals are now being made at the European Commission to expand the agency’s mandate. The Brussels executive wants Frontex to be able to send unwanted migrants back to their home countries.

EU ministers agree, saying that Frontex needs a dedicated ‘return office’ so that it can “scale up its support to member states in order, inter alia, to facilitate, organise and fund return operations.”

It will also be the focal point in a future plan for an European border and coast guard corps.

The European Commission, for its part, is set to propose legislation before the end of the year on EU-wide border guards.

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