West Balkan route

West Balkan route.

The migrant flows through this route were initially from west Balkan countries, but with the introduction of visa free travel for this region in 2012 it became a transit route for migrants using the Turkey/Bulgaria and Turkey/Greece frontier crossings. Increasing numbers of Syrian refugees are using this route.

Most migrants set out on foot or bus, crossing from northern Greece into Macedonia where they hope to get on trains to take them further north. Macedonia has found it hard to cope with the numbers this summer. Migrants seek to continue by train, bus or on foot to evade people smugglers, but authorities along the way are increasingly making this difficult. From Macedonia they cross into Serbia, and across Serbia into Hungary. Hungary has recently installed a 100 mile razor wire fence along its borders with Serbia and Romania. This can be avoided by walking along the railway line which the fence cannot cross, but it is also being breached. For migrants reaching Hungary means reaching the visa free Schengen area and so on to Austria, Germany and Sweden.

Early September has seen at least 2,000 desperate migrants camped on the ground round one of Budapest’s main railway stations which the police are closing to them after initially allowing hundreds to board trains for Austria and Germany. Concerns are high in Hungary and Austria since 71 dead Syrian migrants were found in a lorry abandoned by people smugglers in Austria, close to the Hungarian border and some border controls were introduced to check for people smugglers. Germany is the most welcoming country in the current crisis, expecting to take in 800 000 this year.

Eastern Mediterranean and W. Balkan routes are taking the highest number of migrants so far in 2015.