From: Exit Staff
Illegal Border Crossings Between Western Balkans and EU Double in 2021

During the first five months of 2021, the number of illegal border crossings to European Union Member States almost doubled compared to the same period last year.

This is according to a press release from Frontex, the EU border guard.

According to their figures, more than 47,100 people illegally crossed borders, an increase of 47%. They said that irregular migration had reduced during 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

In May 2021 alone, some 10,500 border crossings were reported, more than double the number reported for May 2020.

In terms of the Western Balkans route, Frontex said they detected 2,900 illegal border crossings in May, again double the figure from the previous year. Over the first five months of this year, more than 14,700 were detected at EU borders with Western Balkan countries.

The two main nationalities detected by Frontex were Syrians and Afghans.

People smuggling in Albania is carried out predominantly by Albanian, Moroccan, and Kurdish gangs. They work together to pick up groups of migrants from the border with Greece or sometimes North Macedonia and then transport them through Albania and onwards to Kosovo or Montenegro.

The cost for this service is around EUR 250 per person for those traveling in groups. Those wishing to travel alone can pay thousands for the privilege.

You can read Exit’s previous investigations into people smuggling in Albania, including interviews with those involved here and here.