EU border agency Frontex said on Thursday the number of migrants illegally entering the European Union by crossing the Western Balkans has almost doubled in 2021, with the majority coming from Syria and Afghanistan, according to Reuters.
Frontex said in a statement that 22,600 migrants were detected illegally entering the EU through the Wester Balkan route from January to July and that the border crossing rose by 90% compared with the same period in 2020. In July, the number was 67% more than the previous year.
Many EU member states are nervous that developments in Afghanistan, where the militant Taliban are rapidly capturing territory and forcing people to flee, could trigger a replay of Europe’s 2015/16 migration crisis.
At the time, the chaotic arrival of more than a million people from the Middle East and Afghanistan stretched security and welfare systems and fuelled support for far-right political groups.
In total, the number of illegal border crossings into the EU since the start of the year reached over 82,000, 59% more than in the same period last year, according to Frontex.
European Union home affairs ministers will discuss a surge of illegal border crossings from Belarus to EU member state Lithuania on Wednesday, August 18.
The EU has accused Belarus of using illegal migrants, largely Iraqis, as a political weapon in response to EU sanctions imposed on Minsk.
Lithuania registered around 3,700 illegal entries from Belarus from January to July, more than 3,000 of which were in July alone.
Poland detected around 180 illegal border crossings in July and Latvia around 200, according to Frontex.