For the second month in a row, figures released by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, also known as Frontex, have indicated that the number of illegal migrants who have entered Europe this year continues to be on par with the levels witnessed during the infamous migrant crisis of 2015-16.
In its monthly press release, published days ago, Frontex reported that between January and October of this year, 281,000 illegal entries had been registered, an uptick of 77% compared to the same period last year, and the highest number recorded since the migrant crisis of 2016.
The number of illegal entries recorded across EU member states last month stood at 42,000, a 25% jump from September when 33,380 illegal crossings were recorded—more than had been recorded in any month this year.
The Western Balkan Route—which begins in Turkey, traverses through either Greece or Bulgaria, then passes through Serbia or Slovenia before reaching Hungary—continues to be the most traveled migratory route into the EU, with more than 22,300 illegal crossings recorded in October, up over 16% from September when 19,160 illegal entries were registered, and nearly three times as many as a year ago.
In its report, the border agency also noted that the Western Balkan region has witnessed the highest number of illegal crossings since the peak of the migrant crisis in 2015.
Hungary, due to its location on the Schengen Area’s southeastern flank, has had to bear the brunt of the increased migratory pressure. Gyorgy Bakondi, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s chief security advisor, told the press last month that well over 200,000 illegal migrants have been apprehended by Hungarian authorities so far this year.
“Many are arriving in Turkey from Iran and Syria while many set off in the direction of Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Croatia,” Bakondi said.
Days ago, Hungary security forces released jarring dashcam video footage that showed an Iraqi human trafficker, who had 21 migrants in the back of his van, firing shots at police when officers attempted to stop his vehicle some 20 miles southeast of Budapest.
Commenting on the incident during a press conference, Gergely Fülöp, the Division Chief of the Budapest Police Department, said: “As this vehicle fled, several shots were fired from it in the direction of the police car following them. As the van stopped, the driver and the man in the passenger seat jumped out and ran into the nearby woods, also firing several shots at the police pursuing police officers.”
The people smugglers were later arrested and taken into police custody without injury.