Frontex, the EU’s border protection agency, has launched a new measure at the EU’s external land borders. The project, called Joint Operation Terra 2022, will be implemented in 12 EU member states at 62 border crossings.
According to a press release issued by Frontex on February 4, more than 450 officers from 28 countries of the European Union and the Schengen area will assist national authorities in border control.
“The European Union has thousands of kilometers of land borders. The aim of the operation is to strengthen border controls on the land borders of the European Union, to help countries combat cross-border crime and to strengthen the internal security of the European Union,” Frontex noted in this regard.
The European Union Border Agency, through Operation Terra, intends to assist member states in combating migrant smuggling, drug and human trafficking and other illegal activities, particularly at the borders of countries such as Greece, Finland, Hungary, Romania and Croatia.
Data show that despite the epidemiological situation on the European continent, the number of migrants who were aiming to reach the EU illegally remains high, TheSchengen.com reports.
In 2021 alone, Frontex helped member states repatriate about 18,300 people to their countries of origin, out of a total of 10,193 who returned by charter flight and 8,107 by scheduled flights.
Besides, a total of 34,349 people and more than 1,050 human smugglers have been identified by the agency along with responsible authorities in the member states, and more than 2,000 permanent borders have been deployed at the EU’s external borders.
In 2019, about 8000 illegal border crossings were detected at the eastern land borders, which means that there was a tenfold increase compared to 2020, and the figures also show an increase in the illegal movement of the eastern borders of the European Union.
In order to be able to carry out Operation Terra, the newly deployed officers will mostly focus on border control, border control and assistance in finding forged documents.
“They will also support host countries in gathering information on people smuggling networks and migration phenomena and identifying vulnerable groups,” Frontex added in its press release on the matter.
In addition, the agency will deploy patrol cars and thermal vision vehicles to support the work of the officers, who will work with their national colleagues and under the leadership of the host country authorities.