Europe’s new migrant crisis: Czechia asks EU for help after illegal immigration surges 1,200% in one year

FILE - Czech policeman controls a car at the border with Slovakia in Stary Hrozenkov, Czech Republic, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
By Kristýna Čtvrtlíková
5 Min Read

As Europe reels from a new migrant crisis, Czechia is one of the EU countries seeing the most dramatic increase in illegal border crossings over previous years, prompting the government to demand EU intervention.

“What we are experiencing is unprecedented. The annual increase in migration to Czechia is 1,200 percent. That is a situation that we as the Czech Republic had to react to,” Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan stated.

In response to the crisis, the Czech government will intensify the current border controls with Slovakia due to growing irregular immigration. The government is also asking the European Commission to propose a solution since the problem concerns all of Europe.

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“The European Commission must pay attention to the situation. I have asked European Commissioner Ylva Johansson to visit the Western Balkans. If we fail to reduce the flow of migrants, we will continue to deal with partial problems instead of the causes within Schengen,” said Rakušan.

In a news conference regarding the issue, Rakušan stated that most migrants are from Syria, and so far this year, Czech police have detected 11,000 illegal crossings.

“This is transit migration, the vast majority of them aimed for Germany. This has raised nervousness on the German side of the border as well,” said the minister.

However, that figure of 11,000 — although a dramatic increase over last year — pales in comparison to the crisis countries like Hungary, Austria, and Serbia are facing. Hungary has so far recorded over 160,000 illegal border crossings since the beginning of the year, and Austria has seen 56,000. The breakdown of border security at the EU’s external borders has prompted outrage from those countries bearing the brunt of the crisis.

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“Austria is currently heavily burdened by illegal migration. The contribution that we are making in Europe is disproportionately high. The EU’s migration policy has failed. There is still no strong protection of the European Union’s external borders, and the reality of the problem is being ignored,” said Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer Friday to Kronen Zeitung.

On Monday this week, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán hosted Nehammer and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić in Budapest, where the main topic was the immigration crisis threatening all three countries.

“Hungary is fulfilling its obligations as a member of Schengen, but it would be in its interest and in the interest of Europe as a whole to move the line as far south as possible. The primary line of defense is now the Serbian-Hungarian border, and it is in everyone’s interest that it is moved further south,” Orbán said.

As Remix News has previously reported, Europe is facing a new migrant crisis that is threatening to rival the 1 million migrants that entered the continent in 2015 and 2016. The only difference this time is that the war in Ukraine and a spiraling economic situation has mostly drowned out the issue from the news cycle. Many of the migrants are headed to Germany and other wealthier European nations in the north. Just last month, 12 out of 16 of Germany’s federal states announced that they will reject any new refugees due to a lack of housing and overcrowded schools and kindergartens.

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Although not in attendance at the meeting in Budapest, Czechia is also calling on the EU to take action against people smugglers and pressure third countries to readmit migrants scheduled for deportation. The issue of deportations remains a major problem. For example, France has successfully deported only 15 percent of all migrants issued deportation orders, often because countries simply refuse to take them back.

The Czech interior minister also confirmed that the Czech Republic will extend border controls with Slovakia by 10 days, which the government introduced last week to stem the tide of migrants crossing into the country.

Slovakia’s interior minister, Roman Mikulec, also voiced his concerns over the crisis facing Europe, saying the European Commission should negotiate more actively with the Western Balkan countries on the issue of illegal immigration.

“We need to be able to send migrants back to their native countries,” Mikulec said.

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