Mar 03, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

The growing migration threat: Here are the latest figures

The number of illegal migrants apprehended at Hungary’s southern border in the first two months of the year has reached four times the number recorded in the same periods in 2018 and 2019. Will 2020 become the next 2015?

While some Western European states remain eager to downplay the threat posed by immigration and continue to push their stubborn, pro-migration agenda, the facts point in a different direction.

According to the latest statistics recorded at Hungary’s southern border – an external border of the EU’s Schengen Area – in January and February 2020, compared to the first two months of 2018 and 2019, the number of illegal border-crossing attempts has increased more than fourfold, from some 1,300 and 1,500 to well over 6,500.

Meanwhile, from 2018 to 2019, Hungary saw a staggering rise in border violations. According to figures published at the end of last November, average daily illegal attempts reached 37 per day in 2019, a dramatic increase from a daily average of just 17 in 2018.

This growth in illegal attempts comes at a time when, based on data published by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, there are still nearly 115,000 illegal migrants on the Balkans migration route, a path that passes through Hungary and links migrants coming from Middle Eastern states to Western and Northern European destinations. This figure is alarming enough in and of itself. But add to the mix those more than 3.5 million registered Syrians in Turkey, for whom Turkey has recently opened its western border, granting them free passage to make their way to Europe, and the numbers become even more concerning.

So far, Greece has been able to repel the first wave of illegals (with the use of tear gas and sound grenades), capturing more than 9,000 migrants between February 29 and March 1, but the situation could change at any moment. Additionally, due to the high number of reported coronavirus cases in the region (especially in Iran), Hungary has temporarily terminated the admission of illegals in the transit zones along its southern border and increased the number of troops patrolling the border fence.

According to Prime Minister Orbán’s Chief Security Advisor György Bakondi, Hungary will protect its and the EU borders at all cost – meeting its Schengen responsibilities – and sends a clear message to incoming illegal migrants: You cannot pass through Hungary.

Unless we make sure that the message is loud and clear, Bakondi said, we cannot exclude the possibility that bigger groups of illegal migrants will attempt to break through the border fence in a violent manner, similar to what happened at the end of January near Röszke and the ongoing conflicts at the Greek-Turkish border.

Photo credit: EURACTIV