Western Balkan Report

From April to June 2015, 52,200 non-regional migrants- migrating citizens of non-Balkan countries- were detected for illegal border crossing in the Western Balkan countries, Frontex reported in its latest Western Balkan Quarterly. The figure is a 219% increase from the previous quarter, January-March 2015.

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Major Border Patrol Crossings (BCPs) between the West Balkan countries and the EU

Since the 2nd quarter of 2014, detected irregular migration has increased in the region by 664%. The border between Hungary and Serbia remains the busiest crossing point, but migrants detected at Bulgaria’s shared border with Serbia jumped 15,196% Due to relative stabilitySea border crossings continue to rise, with 65,996 detections, an increase of 811%.

While the number of migrants is increasing, regional migration is decreasing, down 83% from the last quarter. The drop can be attributed to the relative stabilisation of Kosovo, whose migrant numbers fell 98%.

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Syrian migration continues to grow (up 260%) followed by Afghans (193%) Iraqi migration increased by three times, and Pakistanis increased their number by a factor of 4. Together, this group comprises 87% the non-regional numbers. Of all migrants detected in the reporting region, 9 of ten were non-regional. But non-regional migrants remaining illegally in the Western Balkans is rare, suggesting that the region is a transit zone. Frontex reports that most illegal stayers are regional, mostly Albanian and Serbian nationals.

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Illegal stayers, by reporting Western Balkan country, top shares (left) and nationality (right) Source: FRAN and WB-RAN

Irregular migrants moving through Greece continue through the Western Balkans. The data show a direct link between the non-regional migration from Greece through the Western Balkans. Migrant numbers from the Eastern Aegean and the Western Balkans correspond, once adjusted for the time it takes to organise and move.

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Detections of illegal border-crossing by migrants originating outside the Western Balkans. Source: FRAN and WB-RAN data as of 5 August 2015

The link is confirmed by a look at the nationalities of illegal border crossings from both regions during the second quarter of this year.

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Top nationalities detected for illegal border-crossing. Source: FRAN and WB-RAN as of 5 August 2015

Though these numbers only reflect the people who got caught illegally crossing a border, they illustrate a tremendous increase in illegal migration through the region. Frontex reports that migration continues to rise, with migrants merely changing routes to avert tougher border patrols.