Sofia, June 25, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe
Bulgaria has expelled 18 illegal migrants, sending them out of the country on a joint flight organised by Austria and co-funded by EU border agency Frontex, the Bulgarian Interior Ministry said on June 25.
Those expelled included 17 citizens of Ivory Coast and one from Nigeria, with all of them being sent back to their countries of origin, the Interior Ministry said.
A day earlier, Interior Minister Roumyana Buchvarova, speaking after talks with her Serbian counterpart, said that one of the ministry’s main priorities was countering illegal migration.
The expulsion of the illegal migrants came soon after a Frontex report that showed that since the beginning of 2013, about 153 000 migrants had been detected at Europe’s external borders. This represents a 149 per cent increase when compared to the same period in 2014 when 61 500 migrants entered Europe.
In May the total number of detections rose by 26 per cent in relation to April and reached 50 500. Considering seasonal trends, it is expected that the migratory pressure will continue to increase during the summer period on all routes.
Compared to April, the largest increase was reported on the Western Balkan route (the Hungarian land border with Serbia) where in May the number of apprehended migrants exceeded 10 000. In the period between 1 January and 31 May 2015, over 50 000 migrants were detected on this route which constitutes an 880 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2014.
The land route towards Hungary constitutes the main transit route for migrants who entered the EU from Greece and Bulgaria. This route is considered safer than other routes by migrants from Central Asian and Middle Eastern countries and the fares charged by people smugglers are lower.
Overall, in May, some 19 000 migrants used the Eastern Mediterranean route – a 32 per cent increase since April. Since the beginning of the year, detections on the Eastern Mediterranean route have exceeded 48 000, which is almost five and a half times more than last year. This large increase, mostly due to the rise in the number of Syrian and Afghan migrants poses a significant challenge to the reception capacity in the Greek Aegean Islands.
The migratory situation in Central Mediterranean remains difficult. In May the numbers of detected migrants exceeded 20 500 – the highest monthly level this year and a 29 per cent increase compared to April. In the period between 1 January to 31 May 2015, there were over 47 000 arrivals in Italy, a moderate increase (+14 per cent) compared to the same period in 2014.
Most migrants arriving in Italy this year depart from Libya (over 42 000), but also to a much smaller extent from Egypt (1740), Turkey (770), Greece (719) and Tunisia (256).
Compared to the first four months of 2014, detections in the Western Mediterranean have increased both on its land and sea borders: with 108 per cent increase at Spain’s land borders between Morocco and Ceuta and Melilla (over 3200) was reported at the sea route between Morocco and Algeria towards the Spanish Levante coast. The increasing trend is believed to be related to the summer season.