News and incidents reported recently in Balkan nations seem to show that the Balkan migrant route is once more crowded despite the COVID-19 crisis. Countries in the region are seeing a significant resumption of refugee and migrant flows from the Middle East and Central Asia.
The Balkan route seems to be frequented once more despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, as shown by news and incidents reported recently in Balkan nations which have seen a significant uptick in refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Central Asia.
This phenomenon is compounded by the public health emergency across all the Balkan countries that are struggling with a resumption of rising infections.
Although numbers remain well below the exceptional levels seen in 2015, migration from Turkey and Greece through the Balkans towards Western Europe has picked up once more -- despite the fact that countries on the Balkan route officially 'sealed' their borders in recent years.
Bihac and Velika Kladusa crowded with migrants again
Thousands of migrants have reportedly arrived in Bihac and Velika Kladusa in Bosnia in recent weeks. The two areas in the far northwestern part of Bosnia-Herzegovina on the border with Croatia are considered a sort of terminal for crossing into EU territory.
Local media report growing tension among local inhabitants, who are concerned both about COVID-19 infections and security. Some inhabitants claim that some migrants are engaging in aggressive behavior. There are also frequent reports of fights between rival groups of migrants and migrants from different countries, which often result in injuries and sometimes in killings.
North Macedonia imposes state of emergency
North Macedonia on Wednesday (August 5) called a 30-day state of emergency in some areas of the country heavily affected by migrant flows, such as the southern border with Greece and the northern one with Serbia.
During the night between August 4 and August 5, on the border between Serbia and Hungary, a group of about 100 migrants attempted to cross the border into Hungarian territory. Incidents ensued, including the throwing of stones at the Hungarian police, who managed to push back the attempt.
Dozens of undocumented migrants are reportedly arrested daily along the border between Croatia and Slovenia.
Migrants who have crossed the border between Slovenia and Italy irregularly are often handed back by Italian police to the Slovenian authorities.