The “Balkan Route” for migrants into Europe was ostensibly closed early last year. This was especially true for Hungary, which now receives only a trickle of migrants from Serbia.
The route to through Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria is another matter. “Refugees” who travel through the Balkans are still arriving in German in appreciable numbers. The following article does not mention modes of transport except to say what we all have been expecting: an increasing number of migrants are arriving concealed on freight trains. There is no longer an open trafficking of immigrants on NGO-chartered buses with a full media spotlight, so we may assume that most of the rest of the arrivals — which would be the bulk of them — are traveling in the cargo compartments of trucks under a false bill of lading.
Federal police counted roughly 110,000 illegal entries in 2016
6,850 persons arrived via Balkan Route
January 4 2017
Berlin. In spite of its so-called closing, the way across the Balkan Route remains an important route of flight. In Passau [the border crossing between Austria and Bavaria] 6,800 persons have been captured since the border closing.
By Jan Drebes
Despite distinctly declining refugee figures, coping with illegal migration was one of the main tasks for the Federal Police in the past year. Nationwide, from January through November 2016, officers have captured a total of 105,872 persons who entered illegally; the numbers for December are not yet available.
At the same time, for the security service it is plain to see that even though the Balkan Route is officially rated as closed, it remains one of the most important routes of migration to Germany from the south. The route that leads from the Mediterranean Sea over Italy was intensely trafficked as well.
9,028 Persons captured at airports
Thus, at the German-Austrian border alone Federal Police officers counted 76,366 persons who entered illegally. At airports, 9,028 migrants were captured. The border Switzerland, with 6,770 persons, was the third most trafficked.
It is striking that even after the evident closing of the Balkan Route in early March 2016 the police administration at Passau still caught a large number of persons. From April through December the officers counted 6,850 cases. Persons who illegally entered and also came via the Balkan Route, but were registered in Rosenheim, may be added to those numbers . But the 14,350 cases reported from there since April do not allow any conclusions about their respective routes, as many refugees from Italy arrive in Rosenheim, too.
What is clear is that most illegal immigrants come from Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq. Of the approximately 106,000 cases, roughly 25,000 were Syrians, 20,000 Afghans, and 13,000 Iraqis.
Controls only at German-Austrian border
Altogether, the figures have strongly decreased. While there were 300 cases in Passau in December, in January [of 2016] there were roughly 24,000. Additionally, the Federal Interior Ministry points out that the numbers supplied by the Federal Police do not represent the total illegal migration to Germany. A spokesman stressed that, according to an EU Council ruling, controls take place only at the German-Austrian border.
“Besides, at the ground, aerial, and sea borders within the Schengen zone, controls generally do not take place,” said the spokesman. The findings of the Federal Police accordingly are made as part of the so-called dragnet controls, but do not contain systematic border controls.
Illegal entry per freight Train
Meanwhile, the Federal Police Headquarters in Potsdam has assembled figures that show refugees increasingly use freight trains for illegal entry. The phenomenon became apparent last October; in November, 118 persons were counted who arrived in this fashion in Germany.
In addition to Bavarian officials, the members of the [Police] Administration in Stuttgart have especially had experience with this. It is maintained that they have captured 54 persons so far. Controls on the trains are now to be intensified in cooperation with neighbouring countries.