How much do we pay for Fortress Europe? The Migrant Files and 30 other journalists investigated.

Since September 1, 2015, at least 848 refugees and migrants died or went missing. Border guards counted 900,000 irregular crossings into Europe by way of sea or land, but “a large number of the people who were counted when they arrived in Greece were again counted when entering the EU for the second time through Hungary or Croatia”, according to Frontex.

Although most of the media attention is drawn by the tragedies in the Aegean sea, the highest mortality rates are the ones of the Western Routes. One person out of 20 dies attempting to reach Europe through the Canary Islands (Western African Route) and one person out of 100 dies attempting to reach Europe through Spain (Western Mediterranean Route).

Now that the Eastern Mediterranean Route is the main path to Europe, new walls are being erected and border control is being reinforced. Eastern European and Balkan countries have been building walls during the last months, following the lead of Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria. Hungary closed its border with Croatia mid-October. Slovenia has just begun to build a wall along its border with Croatia. Austria has announced at the end of October it will build a wall along its border with Slovenia, then backtracked. This would have been the first wall inside what used to be Europe’s border-control-free Schengen area.

Ukraine boasted of a $250 million plan to seal its border with Russia before the end of 2018, following of the announcement of other Fortress Europe walls (source: AFP). Estonia developed a €79 million program that includes clearance of its 136 km of land border area (started in October 2014), motion detectors and the construction of a fence near border posts, a program set to be finished in 2019. The sum does not include vehicles, boats, drones and radars, which will be purchased with EU aid. Latvia has begun to build in August a wall 90 km long (on its 270 km border with Russia) for €20 million. Despite claims to the contrary, such walls have more to do with a feared Russian invasion than with asylum seekers. The number of asylum seekers entering the Schengen area through these borders is so low that Frontex hasn’t even created an official route to count them.

(1) More explanation on the Migrant Files

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