Over One Fifth of Irregular Migrants to Europe Coming by Land: New IOM Report

Cover of IOM’s report on displacement in Europe, showing migrants moving towards the Croatian border from Velika Kladusa, Bosnia.  Photo: IOM

Vienna — While the perilous and deadly Mediterranean sea migration route is well known, new figures from IOM show that more than one in five people arriving irregularly in Europe do so by land.  

The most frequently used route is from Turkey to Greece where authorities reported a total of 12,166 land arrivals since the beginning of 2018.

“Whether migrants attempt to flee by land or sea we must always be aware of the dangers they are in, and the cynical business model of the smugglers who exploit them,” said Lado Gvilava, Chief of IOM’s Turkey Mission. “We know that as soon as one route is blocked another one will open. As long as people see their home places as unsafe we need to work with governments to provide them with the protection they need, whether they are in camps, on the move, or arriving in new countries.”

The 17,966 land arrivals to Europe between January and end early September 2018 represent an almost sevenfold increase compared to the 2,464 reported in the same period last year, according to IOM data.

 As in previous years, the Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq and Afghanistan are the most common origin countries reported by more than 50 per cent of all registered migrants and refugees in Greece.

The increased migratory movements through Western Balkans (Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina) continued during this reporting period reaching a total of 18,038 between January and September 2018, and almost seven-fold increase on the 2,675 registered in the whole of 2017.  

The majority of migrants (12,816) are registered in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Pakistan is the most commonly reported country declared by a third of overall registered caseload, followed by those who arrived from the Syrian Arab Republic (16 per cent), Afghanistan (14 per cent), the Islamic Republic of Iran (11 per cent), Iraq (9 per cent) and 29 other nationalities. In Montenegro and Albania, Syrian nationals comprised the majority (44 per cent and 55 per cent respectively), followed by those who arrived from Pakistan (18 per cent and 10 per cent respectively) and Iraq (7 per cent and 8 per cent respectively).

For more information on arrivals to Europe please visit and read the latest report that compiles available information on Mixed Migration Flows to Europe for the month of July 2018. More on the profile of the migrants on the move to Europe can be found in the analysis of the individual surveys conducted earlier this summer with migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

For more information please contact:

Joe Lowry at IOM’s Vienna Regional Office, Tel: +43660 3776404, Email:

Ryan Schroeder at IOM’s Brussels Regional Office, Tel: +3248 5597348, Email