The European Border Patrol and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) has published their year-in-review looking back at 2020 to highlight key accomplishments made by the agency during the last year.
The ‘FRONTEX 2020 in Brief’ is divided into sections, some of which will be summarized below:
Year in Numbers
According to the 2020 Briefing, there were many quantifiable achievements made by FRONTEX in 2020, including:
- 13,170 people rescued with FORNTEX support.
- 3,885 fraudulent documents detected.
- 742 people smugglers identified.
- 453 drug smugglers identified.
- 1,030 multipurpose air surveillance flights.
- 420 standing corps officers trained.
- 1,000 FRONTEX officers at EU’s borders each month.
- 146 weapons seized.
- 147 tons of drugs found.
At the Borders
The agency’s key areas of operation in 2020 were at the borders of Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Spain, and Italy. At any given time, there were more than 1,000 FRONTEX officers working in these countries to assist local authorities.
FRONTEX also played a key role in attaining and distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) during the beginning of Europe’s COVID-19 crisis in April. The agency secured 30,000 masks in immediate response to the crisis, and an additional 250,000 masks as a “strategic buffer” in case of a PPE shortage.
Rapid Border Intervention in Greece
In March of 2020, FRONTEX had to rapidly respond to a growing crisis at Greece’s external borders with Turkey, who began refusing to stop migrants from passing through to Greece. The agency responded adequately, keeping the crisis to a minimum.
Fighting Cross-Border Crime
Cross-border crime is not only extremely difficult to fight, but is one of the key tenets of FRONTEX’s purpose in the EU. According to the Brief, the following are results of joint action taken by FRONTEX and other agencies:
- 74 people smugglers identified.
- 419 child traffickers identified.
- 249 potential victims of child trafficking rescued.
- 423 fraudulent documents detected.
- 1,819 kg of drugs seized.
- 384 stolen cars recovered.
- 38 million cigarettes seized.
- 51 weapons seized.
Outside the EU
Working outside of the EU is another key tenet of FRONTEX, as what happens outside of the bloc can have a large effect on what happens inside of it.
In 2020 the agency deployed a liaison officer to Senegal, its fourth deployment of an officer outside of the EU. FORNTEX liaison officers are now deployed to Niger, Turkey, Senegal, and the Western Balkans.
The agency also launched its first operation outside of the EU inside of Albania in conjunction with local authorities in 2020. As a result of this operation, local authorities were able to arrest 15 people smugglers and seize 50 stolen cars in 8 different successful police operations.
In addition, FRONTEX launched two separate operations in Montenegro, one at the border and one at sea.
Fighting Child Trafficking
FRONTEX remains committed to stopping the “heinous crime” of child trafficking in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.
In 2020, the agency continued their initiatives with specialized UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s).
They also issued an Arabic version of the FRONTEX Vega Handbook: Children at Airports handbook, which provides border guards with guidance in assisting vulnerable children.
In addition, the agency ramped-up its training of border guards, who are often the first and last people that will be able to actually identify the victims of the crime of child trafficking.