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Balkans Migration and Displacement Hub Data and Trend Analysis: Regional overview 2021

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Save the Children International,Save the Children North West Balkans

Data and Trend Analysis (DATA) Refugees and Migrants at the Western Balkans Route Regional Overview 2021 describe key trends in migrations in the region, detailing information about the number of people on the move, demography (age, sex, country of origin, etc), behavioral patterns, and routes in use – with a focus on children, particularly unaccompanied children.

Key trends showcased in this report:

  • The Balkans migration route remained vibrant in 2021,  with most new arrivals recorded in North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia.
  • The UNHCR and the official statistical data in Greece, Bulgaria and Romania suggest at least 93,696 arrivals in the region from January to December 2021.
  • The majority of new arrivals in the Western Balkans countries in 2021 were fleeing Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, while refugees in Greece came mainly from Afghanistan, Somalia and the State of Palestine.
  • Some sources indicate that most newly identified children and adults in the countries along the route could be traced to refugees and migrants already present in the region and were repeatedly trying to exit the region towards the European Union countries.
  • Greece saw a 43% reduction in arrivals compared to 2020, while three times more asylum seekers were registered in Bulgaria in 2021 than in 2020.
  • The routes changed due to border practices along the Balkans Route. The issue of collective expulsions (or pushbacks) of children and adults was repeatedly occurring throughout the year, mostly concerning Greece, Croatia and Hungary, but other countries as well. The border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina saw by far the highest rates of collective expulsions in the Western Balkans.
  • Serbia had surpassed Bosnia and Herzegovina as the Western Balkans country with the most refugees and migrants in its territory. The border between Romania and Serbia became the main exit point on the Balkans Route.
  • While precise demographical characteristics remained largely unavailable, the UNHCR data indicates that 8% of the refugees and migrants who crossed the Balkans Route in 2021 were children.

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