The Western Balkan Route has been one of the main migratory paths into
Europe, reflected the influx on the Eastern Mediterranean route. However, after
the record number of arrivals in the European Union in 2015, the number of
illegal border crossings on this route has been falling steadily.
In 2018, the number of irregular migrants detected on
this route halved from the previous year to 5 869. Most of the migrants
detected on this route in 2018 came from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.
The flow of migrants across the Western Balkans
reflected the influx on the Eastern Mediterranean route, yet at a lower level
compared with previous years given the continuing efforts made on the route to
curb the number of irregular crossings. The total number of irregular crossings
in 2017 stood at 12 179.
As in previous years, non-regional migrants continued
to attempt to enter the Western Balkans across the southern common borders with
Greece and Bulgaria before heading north and trying to exit the region largely
at the northern common borders of Hungary, Croatia or Romania with Serbia.
The largest number of illegal border-crossings of
regional migrants occurred at the common land borders between Greece, Albania
and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. These were associated with
Albanian circular migration to Greece.
the number of detected illegal border crossings between border crossing points
associated with non-regional migrants amounted to 130 325.
Following the coordinated restriction measures
implemented throughout the region, in destination countries and the Aegean Sea,
the non-regional flow transiting the Western Balkans considerably subsided,
declining almost every month, from 128 000 illegal border-crossings in January
down to roughly 3 000 in December 2016.
In 2015, the record number of migrants arriving in
Greece had a direct knock-on effect on the Western Balkan route, as the people
who entered the EU in Greece tried to make their way via the former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia, Serbia into Hungary and Croatia and then towards western
Europe. This led to unprecedented numbers of migrants seeking to re-enter the
EU through Hungary’s borders with Serbia. In all of 2015, the region recorded
764 033 detections of illegal border crossings by migrants, a 16-fold rise from
2014. The top-ranking nationality was Syrian, followed by Iraqis and Afghans.
Illegal border crossings on the Western Balkans route in numbers.