Irish Red Cross Factfile - Migration route update


All figures as of Sep 1 2015 per International Federation of the Red Cross

Number using migrant routes in 2015: 340,000 as per EU border agency, Frontex (likely a conservative figure)

Recent months have seen a shift in the migration routes to Europe; although high numbers continue to cross from Libya to Italy, the majority now cross the Aegean Sea to Greece, continuing northward along the Western Balkans route, which links Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) of Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and beyond.

At present, there is no indication that the number of people forced to risk their lives to make this journey will decrease. The Red Cross national societies of these countries have scaled up their activities in response to this acute emergency.

Since the beginning of June, the number of people using the transiting through Western Balkans route to access Europe has increased significantly. Greece is now the primary entry point for migrants entering Europe, with more than 205,000 people having arrived on its shores so far in 2015. The majority of people arrive on the eastern islands from Turkey, having made a crossing that normally takes one to four hours. On each island, the facilities for registration vary.

In locations where significant numbers of people make landfall, the authorities struggle to process registrations in pace with arrivals. Once registered, most people travel to Athens before continuing their journey north towards the border with FYR of Macedonia.

After crossing the border into the FYR of Macedonia, registration with the authorities is required. This entitles people to remain in the country for 72 hours legally, or to apply for asylum.

In recent weeks, a state of emergency was declared by the government in the border area, leading to crossings at these points being temporarily halted. This situation led to extreme challenges for those trying to cross into the country from Greece, though it has now normalised.

Almost all people continue north from the border point at Gevgelija towards Tabanovce in the north. The authorities facilitate this transit, and most people spend less than one day in the FYR of Macedonia, before entering Serbia.

The authorities of the Republic of Serbia have set up several reception centres in the south and north of the country. Beds, toilets and shower facilities are available at the centres.

The number of people entering Serbia has steadily increased from highs of 1,000 per day in July to as many as 9,000 people over the weekend of 22-23 August.

Registration on arrival entitles people to spend up to 72 hours in Serbia, or apply for asylum.

Many travel first to Belgrade, which has seen increasing numbers of people sleeping rough in recent weeks. Others travel directly to the north of the country; those who intend to cross into Hungary gather in Kanjiža and Subotica.

Hungary has constructed a fence along the entire length of its border with Serbia which it completed in the final days of August. However numbers of people entering the country has not reduced.

On entry, all people are required to register with the Hungarian border police; first at the pre-registration centre at Röszke, followed by a full registration elsewhere.

Since January 1, 140,000 asylum applications have been made; 50,000 applications were made in August alone. The number of people that have crossed the border without registering with the authorities, in the hope to proceed directly to other countries is unknown. Once registered with the authorities, many wish to continue their journey to further countries.

One primary route is to carry on to Germany and beyond, via Austria. Those who wish to make this journey by train travel to the country’s capital, Budapest, and attempt to board trains leaving the country. In recent days, the number of people at the main stations in Budapest has increased. Services provided at these locations are extremely limited, and conditions are dire.


FYR of Macedonia. Gevgelija, 2015. Ayaat from Syria wait for a train north to the Serbian border with her one and a half year old daughter Hasar. They have spent 10 days traveling through Turkey and Greece. Thousands of migrants have crossed through Macedonia since the beginning of June, 2015. They are assisted with food, water and medical attention by Red Cross of the FYR of Macedonia at both the southern and northern Macedonian border.