Pandemic doesn’t stop illegal migrants from seeking entry to Hungary

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Unlike last spring, when strict border closures at the onset of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic brought illegal immigration to a temporary standstill, official police data from the first three months of the year show that numbers are rising again.

Weekly data show that in March the number of prevented illegal border crossings, the number of immigrants apprehended and processed, was well over 1,000 every single week and even approached 2,000 in the 13th week of 2021. Another interesting fact is that this year, the fewest illegal border-crossing attempts happened during the period when Hungary was just past the second wave of the epidemic while the third wave had not yet begun.

In the second week of the year, 1,200 illegal immigrants tried to cross the border illegally; in the fourth week, 1,423; and in the sixth week, 1,252. Meanwhile, in March, the weekly numbers were between 1,484 and 1,928, including those apprehended during border crossings, those arrested and either charged or sent back to the country they came from (typically Serbia and Romania).

The record so far this year came in the eighth week, when 2,586 people attempted to cross the border illegally.

Last spring, when the coronavirus epidemic broke out, during the first wave, prohibited border crossings on the Hungarian-Serbian border almost disappeared for a few weeks. In 2020, migrants had been very active in the first and ninth weeks, with the number of prevented crossings exceeding 1,000 during that time. That number dropped to 800 during the tenth week, bottoming out at a mere 18 in the 17th week of the year.

This situation continued until week 19, when numbers began rising again, hitting a record in week 51 with 2,826 registered illegal crossings.

Looking at the March data alone, a total of 2,781 people tried to cross the southern and eastern border in 2020, while this year, the number was 8,492.

Title image: Police detain illegal immigrants near the Hungarian border. (source:

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