Illegal migrant flow increasing, no Covid-19 cases yet

Ljubljana, 24 March - The flow of illegal migrants across the Slovenian border appears to be continuing apace despite the coronavirus pandemic, a trend that the police attribute to warmer weather. Last week alone, 234 migrants were recorded, but no one has yet tested positive for the novel virus.

Police officers find six Iraqis hidden in a lorry with North Macedonian licence plates.
Photo: Novo Mesto Police Department

Slovenian police recorded 1,165 cases of people crossing the border illegally in the first two months of the year, an increase of 80% compared with the same period a year ago.

Most of the migrants were from Morocco (262), Pakistan (253) and Afghanistan (150). A total of 440 expressed their intention to seek asylum, most of them Moroccans.

Police say that the expectations about a fast increase in the number of illegal migrants in the coming months have begun to materialise, but there is some uncertainty mainly due to the coronavirus situation.

The structure of illegal migrants by nationality keeps changing, but there has been a notable decline in the number of Algerians and a major increase in the numbers of Moroccans and Pakistanis.

While the number of illegal migrants who express an intention to ask international protection is increasing, many of them continue toward their destination countries after being accommodated at the asylum centre.

In the first two months of the year, Slovenian police returned 758 illegal migrants to foreign law enforcement authorities, 750 of them to Croatia. The figures are more than double those in the same time a year ago.

At the same time 89 illegal migrants were returned to Slovenia, which is as many as in the first two months a year ago. Most came through the airport.

Presenting a proposal last week to seek police powers for the army to help secure the border, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said that Croatia demanded for the migrants Slovenia wanted to send back certificates proving they were not infected with the novel coronavirus.

Police say that no migrant has so far tested positive.

Official data as of 23 March show that there were 310 asylum seekers in Slovenia, with data as of 24 March showing that 731 persons had international protection status.

© STA, 2020