On the so-called Balkan route, 14,734 illegal attempts to cross the border were reported this year, or 104 percent more than at the same time last year. The Western Balkan countries reported 2,900 such attempts in May, which is twice as many as in May 2020. Most of the illegal migrants using this route come from Syria and Afghanistan.
These are the preliminary data released by the EU border and coast guard agency Frontex, which attributed the increase in numbers to the fact that the borders, which were closed last year because of the COVID-19 outbreak, are now being reopened.
The greatest pressure still comes from the Central Mediterranean route as nearly 4,200 migrants used this route to get to Europe in May, nearly twice as many as at the same time last year. Between January and May this year the number of illegal crossings on this route more than doubled, reaching 15,700.
Croatia lies on the Balkan route, with most migrants using it as a transit country on their way to other destinations in the EU. Even most asylum seekers, who arrive in Croatia from refugee camps in Greece and Italy under an EU relocation program, leave. Of 250 resettled persons whom Croatia accepted as part of the EU solidarity mechanism, 67 or 26.4 percent have stayed in Croatia.
That migrants do not see Croatia as their destination but only as a barrier on their way to other destinations is shown by the fact that Slovenia returned 9,871 illegal migrants to Croatia last year and 607 in the first four months of this year.
Croatia has seen an increase in the number of migrants illegally crossing its border this year. In the first quarter of 2021, 3,267 such cases were registered, which is at last year’s levels, while compared with May 2019 their number increased by 17 percent. Most of the illegal migrants come from Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the burden of migration, Večernji List said.
For more news about Croatia, visit our dedicated page.