Western Balkans

More than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe in 2015, sparking a humanitarian crisis as European countries struggled to cope with this large influx of people. The vast majority are arriving by sea but some have made their way over land, through Turkey and the Western Balkans. Despite harsh winter conditions, migrants have continued to make the crossing, with 135,711 people reaching Europe by sea since the start of 2016, according to the UNHCR.

Despite its severity, this European migration crisis is marked by significant information gaps on the migrant’s intentions, profile and on the factors motivating their choice to leave their place of origin and select a specific destination within the EU. These information gaps have inhibited the planning and response capacity of aid and government actors, and have contributed to many unfounded assumptions on the migratory crisis.

In response to this, REACH, with the support of the European Union Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), established a displacement monitoring mechanism to assess the trends and profile of new arrivals into Europe through the Western Balkans, since November 2015.

With the aim of providing a better, real-time understanding of displacement profiles, trends and intentions for humanitarian planning and policy decision-makers in Europe, REACH has deployed assessment teams, based in the Western Balkans, who collect primary data on a daily basis on the profiles, motivations and intentions of migrants arriving to Europe, mainly originating from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Through this intervention REACH provides monthly updates on trends and profile of the migrants arriving to the Western Balkans, with the aim of providing consistent and regular evidence as the basis for the response and the decision making of key stakeholders, including humanitarian actors and policy-makers within the EU.