Prague reported a significant rise in irregular migrants in 2022, with the vast majority coming from Syria. Most migrants, however, continued their journey to Western European countries to seek asylum.
The number of irregular migrants entering the Czech Republic more than doubled to 29,235 in 2022, the Deutsche Presse Agentur (dpa) reported on Monday (January 23), citing a police spokesperson in Prague.
In 2021, when COVID-19 restrictions were in place, the Eastern European country reported 11,170 irregular migrants.
In 2022, almost 21,000 of the arrivals were Syrian nationals seeking to travel onwards to Western Europe. Only 694 migrants – including 50 Syrians – applied for asylum in the Czech Republic itself, according to figures from the interior ministry.
Czech authorities detained 277 suspected human traffickers last year – more than four times the number in 2021.
Ukrainians seeking refuge in the Czech Republic following Russia's invasion of Ukraine are not required to apply for asylum, and are granted special protection status.
Czech Republic and Slovakia tighten border control
In September 2022, the Czech Republic reinforced its 250-kilometer border with Slovakia with additional security checks.
The checks were originally brought in to counter an uptick in migration on the Balkan route into the European Union (EU).
The Czech Republic and Slovakia are both members of the EU and belong to the Schengen area, meaning that under normal circumstances there are no border controls. Slovakia has criticized the border controls, arguing that it is against the principles of the Schengen open-border policy.
Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland have been major destinations for Ukrainian refugees fleeing war. The Eastern European countries have taken an increasingly hard line towards people fleeing violence from outside of Europe.
With dpa and Reuters