The countries located on the Balkan route are strengthening their measures to dissuade migrants from using it. Because since this summer, more and more migrants are trying to return to Europe by this route. How to explain this phenomenon ? Several hypotheses are put forward. Following the reactivation of the Balkan migratory route, the countries located on this route are getting tougher. The Czech national police announced on Tuesday, September 27, on Twitter that it would resume checks on its border with Slovakia “from midnight Wednesday night to Thursday” and “for at least the next ten days”. Specifically, “border controls will be reintroduced at 27 former border crossing points along the entire length of the border with Slovakia,” law enforcement said. “We must take this preventive measure in order to deal with the situation in the long term and to discourage illegal migrants from using this route,” Czech conservative Prime Minister Petr Fiala said on Tuesday. A first since the entry of the two countries into the Schengen area in 2007. From Slovakia, migrants try to go to the Czech Republic to reach other countries of the European Union. From early June to early last week, Czech police said they arrested nearly 9,500 illegal immigrants. A number up sharply compared to the whole of 2021, when it stood at 1,330. Further south, Bulgaria has also declared a partial state of emergency on its territory to deal with to the influx of migrants at its border with Turkey. According to Frontex, the border agency of the Schengen area, “the Balkan migration route continues to be the most active in the EU with 15,900 attempted crossings in August, 141% more than last year. “. Frontex specifies that the migrants present on this route generally come from Syria, Afghanistan and Turkey. How can this increase in attendance be explained? Experts put forward several hypotheses. Migrants are turned back at borders but try their luck againContacted on Tuesday by InfoMigrants, Frontex replied in the same terms as its press release published in early September: “The high number of illegal border crossings can be attributed to repeated attempts to cross by migrants already present in the Western Balkans. Latest from the 🇪🇺 external borders: In the first seven months of this year, there were about 155,090 irregular entries to the European Union 🇪🇺, 86% more than in the same period of last year.Read our latest press release ⬇️https ://t.co/6tNvUBPjOg pic.twitter.com/wTd5E2XjLR— Frontex (@Frontex) August 12, 2022Several countries are accused of pushing back migrants, including from Hungary to Serbia and Serbia to Bosnia and Albania , according to Sophie Duval, CCFD-Terre Solidaire migration advocacy officer, contacted by InfoMigrants. These arbitrary returns are regularly denounced by the international community. However, this does not discourage countries from practicing them. At the end of August, the Council of Europe stated that “the number of forced returns to Serbia has increased considerably, with more than 75,000 cases reported in 2022 alone” and that “allegations of ill-treatment and disproportionate use of force when such dismissals persist”. Turned back, many migrants find themselves stranded in Serbia. “There are currently around 28 squats and informal camps in northern Serbia near Hungary and Croatia. This figure may increase as there is an increase in arrivals to Serbia via North Macedonia. the migrants don’t want to stay in Serbia anyway, so they continue on their way to the north of the country and try to cross the border several times before they manage to enter Hungary,” Vuk Vuckovic, head of the the Serbian NGO Klikaktiv. An observation confirmed by Sophie Duval: “there are a lot of people blocked for years on this road and who are in situations of wandering because of successive refoulements.” Under these conditions, how to explain that many people find themselves in the border between Slovakia and the Czech Republic? If they manage to enter Hungary, they can be deported to Serbia but also elsewhere. “Once these people have entered, Hungary has every interest in getting them out of the country. It can therefore turn them back, but it is a safe bet that it facilitates the passage of migrant people to other states, such as Slovakia. “, says the advocacy officer. Certain nationalities are exempt from visaSome nationalities do not need a visa to enter certain Balkan countries. This is the case for Indian, Burundian, Tunisian or Cuban citizens in Serbia. These agreements facilitate access to the Balkan route. Migrants “land in Belgrade and then, through smugglers, cross the border of Hungary, Austria and Switzerland,” said Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter on September 20 during a meeting. a conference on migration held in Sarajevo. At the same time, Sophie Duval of the NGO CCFD-Terre Solidaire points out that “on other routes, the policies are more restrictive”. She cites in particular “those put in place by France and other EU countries in terms of granting visas”. In this context, “migrants are moving to states that can allow them to come without a visa, such as Serbia,” she continues. Controls are tightening on other routes The Mediterranean route, which is the focus of the authorities’ attention, may also seem less safe for some migrants. Indeed, “the EU is strengthening its cooperation with Libya and agreements are being negotiated for the deployment of Frontex in Morocco, Senegal and Mauritania, departure countries for the Canary Islands route”, says Sophie Duval. The war in Ukraine could also explain why the Balkan route has resumed. “There are more controls in Moldova and Romania”, transit countries for migrants, says the advocacy officer. “As controls are tightened in this area because of the war, migrants may be going there less than before,” she continues. Population movements resumed after the Covid-19 crisisFor the Swiss Minister of Justice, the migrants on this route are “above all people who were in Turkey and Greece”. However, during the Covid-19 crisis, they were unable to travel due to border closures. “They wanted to go to central Europe but couldn’t travel,” she said. “The Covid context did not help the movement of populations. Today, there is a resumption of movement, the passages are multiple and the migrants try to pass several times”, abounds Sophie Duval.