The European Union is seeing a sharp increase in illegal entry via the Balkan route. Between January and May, the number of illegal border crossings almost tripled to 40,675 compared to the previous year, the European border protection agency Frontex announced on Monday. In May alone there was a doubling to 12,088.

The migrants come mainly from Afghanistan and Syria. The EU authority gave no reason for the strong increase. However, she said that most of the migrants who came via the Western Balkans had probably been in the region for a long time and had now dared to take the step. Overall, Frontex registered 86,420 illegal border crossings in the first five months of the year, half of them on the Balkan route.

The more than 5.5 million Ukrainian war refugees who have come to the EU since the Russian attack began are reportedly not included in the figures.