Border control has been stepped up this week in the area of Ljubljana, Novo mesto and Koper police directorates as a result of intensified migration pressure at the Slovenian-Croatian border during the past few weeks. In addition to regular patrols, another 1,000 police officers are being deployed to assist in border surveillance, using all the technical equipment available.
In his media statement Jože Senica, Deputy Acting Director-General of the Police, pointed out that a considerable increase in the number of migrants had been noted on the Balkan route recently and that the pressure at the Slovenian border was growing due to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. “This has been evident in recent days at our border with Croatia in the form of the arrival of larger groups of migrants, who for the most part attempt to continue their journey towards Italy. In most cases, migrants are Pakistani, Moroccan and Afghan nationals. The purpose of control is to let migrants and organisers of illegal crossings know that it is not worth their while to attempt to pass through Slovenia.”
Tighter control of the external border aims to prevent illegal crossing of the border outside of border crossing points, to prevent cross-border crime, to effectively detect illegal migrants and to carry out measures against individuals who illegally crossed the external border.
The police increasingly use drones to monitor the movements of migrants from above. When migrants try to flee being apprehended, they run in several directions and drones make it easier for police officers to follow and apprehend them. This is a video of officers of the Specialised Unit for State Border Control apprehending a group of migrants outside of Ljubljana on 29 May 2020.
An increase in the number of illegal migrants and a change in the way they cross the border have been noticed recently.
An increase in the number of illegal migrant became noticeable in the last two to three weeks, when the manner of illegal entries from Croatia and Slovenia changed. Migrants, for the most part, avoid populated areas and travel at night, using forest paths and remote terrain, while they spend the day resting in hidden-away locations. We have also noticed that certain groups came on foot from Bosnia and Herzegovina through Croatia unnoticed. Most of them use GPS navigation on smartphones in airplane mode, which prevents them being traced as well as saves battery. Illegal migrants very quickly adapt to police measures and frequently change both their routes and border crossing methods.
Despite a higher number of detected and apprehended migrants at the border with Croatia, there has also been an increase in the number of migrants who are successful in crossing from Slovenia to Italy. This is reflected in the number of foreigners returned to us by the Italian law enforcement authorities.
Larger number of police officers and all technical means available deployed for tighter border control
Tighter border control allows better terrain coverage over a shorter period of time. In addition to regular police patrols and mixed patrols of Slovenian police and army officers, extra police units have been deployed from other police Directorates less burdened by illegal migrations, as well as the mounted police unit, service dog handlers, and officers of the Special police unit. Officers of auxiliary police who perform their tasks in the framework of Police Directorates are also helping with border surveillance.
Some 1,000 additional police officers are to perform tasks on the state border with Croatia during the tighter border control.
We have also included a team of officers specially trained for conducting interviews with illegal migrants, i.e., debriefers, who gather quality additional information about migration routes and organisers of illegal migrations.
All available technical means and equipment for border surveillance, such as video-surveillance systems and cameras for detection of movement, thermographic cameras are to be used even more intensively during the surveillance, with additional support of the helicopters with visual observers and drones.
Members of Slovenian army are continuing to provide support to the police in border surveillance, increasing the capacity to apprehend persons illegally entering Slovenia.
Temporary technical barriers are continuously being erected on the most burdened sections of the external border. The barriers direct illegal migrations to locations where apprehension and processing of illegal migrants can be carried out more easily. Currently there are 180 kilometres of temporary technical barriers.
Along with increase of measures on the border, police are also paying more attention to potential transports of illegal migrants inside the country, by intensively implementing compensatory measures. This helps detect illegal border crossings and trans-border crime on internal borders, namely borders with Italy, Austria and Hungary.