Skip to main content


Impact of the Ukraine war on migrant smuggling in South Eastern Europe

The war in Ukraine has spurred the largest refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War. While the unforeseen scale of the refugee crisis meant that much of the border authorities’ efforts and resources were occupied, people smuggling networks took advantage of the situation, and the number of irregular migrants from the Middle East travelling along the Western Balkan route soared. In 2022, the Western Balkan route became the most active European migration route, surpassing the Central and Western Mediterranean routes.


As part as its ongoing collaboration with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, CSD assessed the factors that contributed to the emergence of the Western Balkan route as the most critical for irregular migration to the EU during 2022, focusing in particular on the impact of the war in Ukraine on refugee flows from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and its implications for the future. The current report analyzes how refugee flows from Ukraine have affected pre-existing movements of migrants from MENA countries on the Western Balkan route indirectly, exacerbating dynamics and network operations and estimates the overall number of irregular migrants smuggled along the Western Balkan route since 2016.


The full report could be accessed on the website of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime here.

This website uses cookies for functional and analytical purposes. By continuing to browse it, you consent to our use of cookies and the CSD Privacy Policy. To learn more about cookies, incl. how to disable them. View our Cookie Policy.