The Eastern land border migrant route may be the less known and used by relatively smaller number of migrants, compared to those in the Mediterranean, but is the longest one, covering an area from in Finland to the North to Romania to the South.
In 2016 there was a record high 170% increase in people who were refused entry to EU at the Polish land border with Belarus, which is part of the route. According to the EU border and coast guard agency Frontex most of the refusals were issued to Russian citizens of Chechen origin and to lesser extend to Tajiks.
Migrants without visa
Frontex statistics show that last year 70 901 Russian nationals, 27 861 Ukrainians, 7170 Tajiks and 5975 citizens of Belarus have been declined entry into EU, the main reason being lack of a valid visa.
It is not for the first time that the EU Eastern external borders are seeing such migratory pressure. In 2013 the EU found itself in similar situation when migrants in masses showed up at the border points without visas seeking asylum in Germany, largely without success.
About 80% of the asylum applications are declined on the Eastern land border route. Poland, which has the longest land border on the way increased the rate of effective returns of illegal migrants with 50% in 2016. However, this does not seem to discourage the people heading to the EU through Poland and the Baltic states.
The number of migrants coming through Belarus and Poland to Germany has been growing steadily over the past year. Many of them are Russian citizens of Chechen origin. The Frontex analysis finds out that many of them have traveled by train from Minsk to the Polish city of Terespol. Others travel by car, moving along the European route E30 from Terespol further to Warsaw and Berlin.
Migrants with forged travel documents
Unlike other routes where migrants are trying in the hide to cross the border, people here are mainly using the legal entry points. However an increasing number of migrants have been trying to enter Europe on forged documents.
The EU border agency claims that forgery of travel documents has became part of the “services” offered by smugglers and is becoming one of the most frequent criminal activities related to the migrant crisis.
According to Frontex Risk Analysis report for 2017, which was published in February, the fraudulent documents,detected at the Eastern EU borders are becoming not only more numerous, but also of a better quality.
About half of the people detected with forged visas last year were Ukrainians (1208), with 143 Russians and a smaller number of Belarusian, Moldovan, Vietnamese and Afghan citizens. Besides the Polish crossing at Terespol, the airport in Kiev has become another focus point for people trafficking where migrants with forged documents have been trying to board flights to Europe.
The border analysis of Frontex points out that fake Polish Schengen visas are more common for migrants using the land route, while those travelling by air more commonly use fake Latvian and Lithuanian ones.