Despite the closure of the Balkan route that saw the majority of the migrant traffic in 2015, German authorities say thousands of migrants were still able to use the route to reach Germany.
In a new report, Germany’s federal police, the Bundespolizei, say the Balkan route, which stretches from Greece through to Germany by land, is not closed and claim at least 6,850 migrants arrived via the route in 2016, Die Welt reports.
The figure of 6,850 comes from reports in the German city of Passau on the Austrian border which was one of the most trafficked border areas by migrants in 2015. In January, before the closure of the route, Passau saw 26,000 migrants a month, while in December the number has slowed down to only 300.
The authorities in the border town of Rosenheim is also located near the Austrian border, but further west. Rosenheim reported 14,350 migrants from April to December of 2016, but many of them may have travelled up through Italy rather than the Balkan route.
Germany has had many more attempts by migrants to enter the country illegally in 2016. According to reports, there were 105,872 attempts to enter Germany illegally that were caught by police. The vast majority of them, 76,366, were at the German-Austrian border, 9,028 were at various airports around the country and 6,770 were on the border with Switzerland.
Currently, the German government only controls the borders with Austria and Switzerland which led an Interior Ministry spokesman to comment that the numbers may only be part of the picture as the Schengen free movement area across land, air, and sea is largely unpatrolled.
Although the Balkan route is closed, and the traffic is far less than it was in 2015, many migrants still consider it the main route to get to Germany, along with the Italian route. The closure of the Balkan route has left countries like Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia virtually alone in dealing with the migrants who can no longer pass into Germany.
Recently in Bulgaria migrants started a massive riot that engulfed the largest migrant camp in the country when they were told they couldn’t leave due to the spread of diseases including smallpox. Hundreds of migrants were arrested and many of riot instigators were deported.
Greece is also under pressure as the migrant camps within the country cannot handle the overcrowding and the resources to feed and clothe migrants are stretched to their limits. In March, the German government and the European Union have announced plans to make the situation worse by resuming the Dublin asylum rules and sending migrants from Germany back to Greece where they first landed in the political bloc.