The number of migrants entering Croatia illegally in the first three months of 2018 has increased by 72 percent compared to the same period last year, and the Croatian police said they expect five of Croatian counties in eastern and central parts of the country would find themselves on the migrant route this spring.
In the first quarter of 2018, a total of 1,371 individuals were caught attempting to cross into Croatian illegally, significantly up from 801 in the same period in 2017.
In a statement sent to the state news agency HINA on Friday, Croatian police said that the counties of Osijek-Baranja, Vukovar-Srijem, Karlovac, Lika-Senj and Sisak-Moslavina could find themselves on the path of illegal migrants trying to reach Western Europe this spring, when increased number of illegal border crossings are expected.
The number of registered asylum seekers has also increased. From January to March this year, 292 people applied for asylum in Croatia, up from 238 during the same period last year.
A total of 294 persons were deported back to countries they entered Croatia from, mostly to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
By country of origin, the largest groups were people coming from Afghanistan, Kosovo, Pakistan, and Turkey. Afghans accounted for 20 percent of all illegal migrants in the first three months of 2018.
In percentage terms, the largest increase in illegal migrants was recorded among Tunisian nationals, as 35 were reported in the first quarter of this year compared to only one in 2017. The number of Syrians increased from 27 to 88, and of Iranians from 34 to 84.