The number of migrants passing through Belgium on their way to the United Kingdom has significantly dropped, according to European statistics published by the Belgian Minister of Justice on Wednesday.
The data shows that Belgium has experienced a staggering 90% decrease in the number of migrants using the country as a transit point to get to the UK from 2018 to 2022.
In 2018, Belgian police detected nearly 13,000 people making their way to the UK through Belgium. However, by 2022, this number had plummeted to just 944.
The reduction was particularly notable in the West Flanders province, where the number of migrants intercepted fell sharply in and around the port of Zeebrugge, from 3,926 detected in 2018 to 404 in 2022.
The decline also matched the magnitude in Ostend, where 196 migrants “in transit” were found in 2018 compared to only 30 in 2022.
Additionally, the number of migrants intercepted while attempting to reach Great Britain has also decreased in De Panne, Coxyde, Nieuwpoort, and Blankenberge.
The decrease in migrant numbers is credited to the efforts of the police and the Justice Department to prevent and severely punish people smuggling in recent years.
The Belgian Federal Justice Minister, Vincent Van Quickenborne, emphasized in a press release that clandestine crossings to the UK by boat, container, or lorry are life-threatening, and people smugglers already have countless deaths on their conscience.
He also pointed to frequent police interventions, extensive international cooperation, and severe punishments for smugglers as particularly effective measures.
The newly-established TransIT team has also played a part in the success by analyzing confiscated smartphones.
Despite the drop, an estimated 80,000 people attempted to cross to the UK from continental Europe in 2022, but the majority did not pass through Belgium.
While the decrease in migrant numbers passing through Belgium is good news, it is important to remember that there are still migrants who attempt to make the perilous journey to the UK.