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Key Country Puts Up Border Fence, Illegal Crossings To EU Drop 90 Percent

REUTERS/Jeff Topping

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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The refugee influx to the European Union has halted drastically since Macedonia fenced off its border to Greece in February, according to EU’s border service Frontex.

Just 4,930 people entered Macedonia from Greece illegally in March — a 90 percent decline compared to the same month last year. Macedonia’s refugee influx stood at 60,000 as recently as January, and the downward trend can be attributed to a fence that went up in February.

Macedonia is the first country on the so-called Balkan route, which connects Greece to the rest of the European Union. More than 800,000 migrants used this route in 2015.

Graphic showing the point of entry for refugees in 2015 (UNHCR)

Graphic showing the point of entry for refugees in 2015 (UNHCR)

The number of migrants arriving by sea to Greece from Turkey has also decreased significantly since the EU struck a deal with Turkey in March. Frontex recorded 26,460 arrivals in March, about half of the number registered in February.

Migrants are now changing their attention to Italy, where slightly more migrants are arriving by sea.

Hungary was the first EU country to erect a fence during the ongoing migrant crisis. When the fence went up Oct. 17, the influx went down to 870 from 6,353 only a day earlier. Illegal border crossing were steadily below 40 per day throughout the rest of the month. The number picked up slightly in February, after migrants destroyed part of the fence, but it remains in the low hundreds.

Hungarian Police

Illegal border crossings in Hungary in October, 2015. (Hungarian Police/The Daily Caller News Foundation)

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