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.


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%.


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.


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.


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.


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.