(Bloomberg) -- Refugees driven by the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, along with social and economic turmoil from Covid-19 in Africa and Asia, are pushing irregular migration to Europe to pre-pandemic levels and putting more strain on its border countries.
The European Union had almost 200,000 illegal crossings recorded at its borders last year, a 57% rise compared to the year before, the Integration Center for Migration Policy Development said in a statement Monday.
The bloc and Turkey should expect a “significant increase” in arrivals from Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the country last year, displacing more than 670,000 people, the think tank said. Following flareups in Syria, more refugees are expected this year; a vast majority of the 1 million who already fled the region are being hosted in Europe. Also on the rise is migration from Covid-stricken North Africa, Somalia, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
“While 2021 was quite a remarkable year in terms of increasing flows of irregular migration to Europe, 2022 shows signs that it will perhaps be even more critical in setting the path for years ahead,” said Michael Spindelegger, who runs the Vienna-based group, which is funded by the EU, the United Nations and various national governments.
Europe has struggled in recent years to address the migration problem, with countries split over how to handle incoming flows while maintaining the EU’s open internal borders. The think tank said the position of France, which holds the rotating EU presidency and is the second most important destination for migrants in Europe, is crucial, along with that of Germany.
The full report will be published on Jan. 27, the group said.
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