BELGRADE – Refugees and immigrants from war-afflicted areas worldwide have filed over 22,000 requests for asylum in Serbia in the first five months of the year, which is a figure higher by six times than that recorded in the same period last year, the UNHCR Belgrade Office released.
Noting that the Serbian authorities received 10,000 new asylum requests in May alone, UNHCR noted that the authorities in the southern part of central Serbia daily receive around 200 asylum seekers arriving from Macedonia.The government and the civil society are currently doing all they can to register migrants and provide them with accommodation and basic humanitarian assistance, states the release.
UNHCR data show that the number of refugees and migrants on the Western Balkan route has drastically increased, and a majority of them come from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea and Somalia. The number of asylum seekers in the Western Balkans increased from 5,000 to 20,000 from 2012 to 2014, which constitutes a 400 percent increase.
A majority of the asylum seekers come from Greece and the situation is especially difficult in Macedonia where the asylum seekers hike along mountain roads and railroad tracks for days on end and are exposed to accidents, violence and abuse by smugglers.