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The Number of Illegal Border Crossings via the Balkan Route Has Decreased

The number of illegal border crossings in the EU from the beginning of the year to November via the so-called Balkan route decreased by 28 percent, which is the most drastic decrease on an annual basis, announced the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex).

The announcement states that from the beginning of the year until November, 98,600 people entered the EU illegally via the Balkan route.

According to data from Frontex, the total number of illegal entries into the EU in the first 11 months of this year exceeded 355,300, which is the highest since 2016.

“During the year, a significant increase in the number of irregular border crossings was recorded, which in the first 11 months increased by 17 percent to more than 355,300. This number is higher than that recorded during the whole of last year and is the highest since 2016,” it states in the announcement.

The press release points out that the general increase was mainly driven by the arrival of undocumented migrants from the central Mediterranean, via the route that is still the busiest for migrants. Every other crossing of the EU border is registered via that route.

Around 500 people are currently staying in two reception centers in the Una-Sana Canton (USK), confirmed the representatives of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

According to the latest report of this organization, more than 300 migrants and refugees are staying in the Lipa Reception Center, while the number of users of the services of the Borići center in Bihać has recently been between 100 and 150.

“The situation has changed. Currently, there are more migrants in Sarajevo Canton than in USK, and we know that in previous years it was a different picture. However, the situation is fully under control, given that at this moment in Bosnia and Herzegovina there are slightly more than 2,000 migrants and refugees. The available accommodation capacities in the four current reception centers on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina are more than sufficient at this moment,” said the head of the IOM Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Laura Lungarotti.

She added that despite the increase in the number of arrivals in the last few months, migrants stay in BiH and in general in the Western Balkan countries for a very short time.

“Migrants are no longer staying, they are not stuck in Bosnia and Herzegovina, nor generally in other countries of the Western Balkans. They tend to transit quite quickly on their way to Western Europe. The change in trends is absolutely visible, i.e. less time spent in transit centers and very fast movement across the country. Obviously, the focus is changing and it is necessary to emphasize efforts in the fight against human trafficking and smuggling, because we believe that most of these movements are organized by smugglers and traffickers,” said Lunagarotti.

There is also a noticeable change in the nationality of the people who come, so since July, the number of arrivals of citizens of Morocco, Afghanistan and Iran has increased.

Members of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USK, in cooperation with the officers of the BiH Border Police and the Service for Affairs with Foreigners, continuously carry out actions to relocate migrants from abandoned buildings and so-called improvised or wild camps. That is certainly one of the reasons why their number is not worrying at the moment.

“Recently, 34 migrants were found in Šturlić settlement, who were staying illegally in different locations. In that operation, two citizens of Afghanistan were also found who are suspected of crimes of kidnapping and robbery in the area of Velika Kladuša. After the criminal investigation, they were handed over to the prosecutor on duty for further action,” stated the spokesperson of the USK Police, Bahrudin Dželalagić.

The flawless cooperation and coordination of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USK with the Directorate for the Coordination of Police Agencies in BiH, the State Border Police, and the Service for Affairs with Foreigners of BiH, especially recently, was highlighted.

Source : Sarajevo Times