Romania has become the new route for Afghan migrants and refugees headed to Western Europe after Hungary and Croatia tightened their borders, Spanish publication El Confidencial reported.
Many EU member states are nervous that developments in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover could trigger a replay of Europe’s 2015 migration crisis.
The traditional route for undocumented migrants fleeing Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan fleeing oppression and war was Turkey, Greece, Northern Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Croatia, on their way to Western Europe.
But as U.S. troops prepared to pull out of Afghanistan and Hungary and Croatia beefed up border patrols, migrants have been opting for relatively permissive Romania as a stepping stone to Western Europe.
Some migrants then try and cross the border hidden in trucks into Hungary, the publication said.
In the first half of 2021, the European Border Agency (Frontex) said there were almost 3,200 attempts by Afghans to enter the EU from non-EU countries.
That was an increase of 41% over the previous year. Asylum applications by Afghan citizens have increased fort the last three months, according to the European Asylum Agency.
Many Afghan refugees have moved to neighboring countries, such as Iran or Pakistan, but they are also headed to other countries.
Turkey is building a 64-kilometer wall on its Iranian border to block the route most used by migrants. and refugees. With the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, more Afghan migrants are expected.
Frontex sources told El Confidencial that there won’t be as many migrants as there were during the 2015 Syrian refugee crisis.
Romanian Border Police say 8,758 migrants without papers attempted to enter Romania in the first six months of 2021. That is 200% more than in the same period of 2020.