Brussels (Brussels Morning) The EU border monitoring agency Frontex reports an upsurge in illegal entries into the Union through the Western Balkans and Central Mediterranean migrant routes, having recorded nearly a doubling in numbers compared to the previous year.
A total of 22,600 migrants were detected illegally entering the EU through the Western Balkans route between January and July this year, an increase of 90% compared to the same period last year. Most of the migrants detected using the Western Balkans route were Syrian and Afghan nationals, with Moroccans the next most frequent.
The agency also recorded a 96% increase in arrivals via the Central Mediterranean route compared to last year, with 30,800 recorded crossings so far this year. Most of the migrants using the Central Mediterranean route were Tunisian, Bangladeshi and Egyptian nationals.
Another surge was recorded in arrivals through the Western African route. Even though the volume of arrivals is significantly lower than for the other two routes, with only 7,350 arrivals recorded in 2021 so far, this still represents an increase of 130% compared to the same period last year.
The official Frontex figures do not include migrants that were “discouraged” from crossing by the pushback practices widely reported by global human rights organisations. Even as authorities in EU countries such as Croatia and Greece deny engaging in the practice, independent organisations claim both countries are capturing migrants caught in their territories and forcibly returning them back across the border.
The report on the increase in migrations comes as Taliban insurgents are closing in on the Afghan capital, Kabul, having captured 11 regional capitals in as many days. Rights groups and EU authorities both fear that the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan could bring about a fresh wave of refugees fleeing the Taliban’s rule.