New Data on Population Movements in the Western Balkans

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In 2018, a total of 61,0121 irregular migrants were officially registered by the authorities in the Western Balkan countries -- five times more than the 13,216 registered in the previous year.

The most significant increase was observed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where between January and December 2018 authorities registered a total of 23,848 migrants and refugees - 20 times more than the 1,116 reported in 2017 and almost two times the 2017 yearly total reported for all Western Balkans countries combined.

All countries included in this overview observed an increase in detected irregular entries in 2018 compared to 2017. In Montenegro and the Republic of North Macedonia authorities reported a six-fold increase in registered arrivals compared to 2017: 807 vs. 4,645 and 547 vs. 3,132 respectively.

A five-fold increase is calculated between the yearly totals in Albania, from 752 in 2017 to 3,401 in 2018. Four times more migrants arrived in Slovenia this year – a total of 8,477 compared to the 1,933 registered in 2017 and similar increase is noted for Kosovo (UNSCR 1244) where in 2018, 590 new migrants were registered versus 147 reported in 2017.

Unlike 2015 and 2016 when routes through the region were controlled and directed by the authorities through an established intra-regional humanitarian corridor, information collected from IOM field data collectors and mobile teams shows that migrants registered in 2017 and 2018 have been taking more diverse routes for traveling in the region.

While it is possible that some migrants registered in more than one country in the Western Balkans in 2018, the majority of the arrivals in a particular country can be considered as original entries.  (Registered refers to migrants apprehended or intercepted by national authorities in the Western Balkans. It is the minimum and estimated number of migrants that transited in the region. It does not represent the overall figures as the number of migrants that cross the region undetected is unknown.

The increase in arrivals registered in 2018 is still far behind the total of 194,093 arrivals registered in the Eastern Mediterranean in 2016 and even further than the 888,537 registered in 2015

Apart from that, noteworthy increases in Albania and Montenegro, countries that were not affected by the migratory flows in 2016, indicate a change in the transit routes taken since mid-2017. Additionally, in both 2017 and 2018, an increase in arrivals was observed in Slovenia and Croatia, the closest EU Member States on the way to Western Europe.

More than a half (62 per cent ) of all registered migrants were nationals of four countries – Pakistan (26 per cent), Islamic Republic of Iran (12 per cent), Afghanistan (12 per cent) and the Syrian Arab Republic (12 per cent). On a country level, Pakistan was the most commonly reported origin country by migrants registered in Serbia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Please see the full report at this link: http://migration.iom.int/reports/europe-%E2%80%94-mixed-migration-flows-western-balkans-2018-overview?close=true