EU: Frontex: Annual Report 2015, Western Balkans risk analysis January-March 2016

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At the end of June the EU's border control agency, Frontex, presented its Annual Activity Report 2015 to the Council of the EU. The report provides an overview of the agency's work during 2015 - for example, through the coordination of joint operations and joint return operations - as well as information in budgetary and management issues.

Amongst many other things, the report notes a massive increase in the number of dead bodies recovered during joint operations:

"It is dauntingly difficult to estimate fatalities among migrants irregularly crossing the border, because it is not possible to keep an accurate count of missing persons. Frontex does not record such data and can only report the number of bodies recovered during Joint operations. In 2015, 470 dead bodies were reported in the Mediterranean area, an increase of 112% compared to 2014. According to IOM estimates, more than 3 770 persons went missing or died in the Mediterranean area in 2015."

See: Frontex: Annual Activity Report 2015 (pdf)

Frontex has also recently published its Western Balkans "risk analysis" for the first three months of 2016, which the agency summarises as follows (Frontex, link):

"In the first quarter of 2016, the number of illegal border-crossings by migrants travelling from Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria dropped 84% from the previous three months to 215 000. The fall became more pronounced in February and March, when coordinated restriction measures were introduced at regional level and, ultimately, the transit corridor was closed. After the closure in March, the number of detections dropped to the level close to that of the same month in 2015 and helped reduce the number of people arriving on the Greek islands from Turkey.

This number was cut even further after the EU-Turkey statement that came into effect on March 20.

Fewer than 2 500 of the illegal border crossings were associated with regional migrants in the first quarter.

The number of people smugglers detected on the Western Balkan route fell for the second consecutive quarter to 261, its lowest since the third quarter of 2014. However, the decision to close the organised transit corridor is likely to increase migrants’ demand for people smuggling services."

See: Frontex: Western Balkans Quarterly Risk Analysis: Q1 2016 (pdf)

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