The EU says it has registered a considerable increase of irregular entries into the bloc from the Western Balkans. The EU border agency Frontex said that many of the irregular migrants and refugees were either Afghan or Syrian.
Frontex said in a statement that "the number of irregular migrants detected in the region more than doubled to 12,088" in the month of May.
Between the months of January and May 2022, Frontex recorded 40,675 irregular crossings in the European Union on the Western Balkans route. This is nearly three times the number compared to the same period in 2021.
This accounts for almost half of the total number of 86,420 irregular entries into the EU during that period. Additionally, the agency said that this total number of irregular entries marked a rise of 82% compared to to the same period last year.
Frontex did not provide a reason for this surge but specified that people fleeing from Ukraine were not included in the figures.
Many Afghans among irregular entries
The agency added that most of the people detected had been in the Western Balkans for some time before seeking to enter the EU, adding that the main countries of origin of most irregular migrants were Syria and Afghanistan.
Many Afghans have been stuck in the Balkans, especially Bosnia and Herzegovina, for years, predating the violent takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban in August 2021.