BELGRADE – Serbia detained over 3,000 migrants illegally entering into the country in one month, a military spokesman said, suggesting many were still trying to make their way along a Balkan corridor to the European Union despite border closures.
Balkan countries along the route processed hundreds of thousands of migrants over their borders last year, but clamped down in February to stop the mass influx and many migrants now resort to people smugglers to try to reach the EU, EurActiv.com reports.
“Since July 22, the Joint Force of the Serbian Army and the Ministry of Interior have uncovered 3,112 people attempting to illegally cross the state border,” Defence Ministry spokesman Jovan Krivokapic said in a statement.
Two people were arrested overnight in Serbia’s south as they tried to slip 30 migrants across the border.
After entering Serbia, most migrants become stranded as EU member Hungary to its north cut the maximum number of daily entries to 30 in June, creating a bottleneck.
According to Serbia’s commissariat for refugees, about 4,000 migrants were in the country on Thursday, with about three-quarters of them in government-run refugee centres.
The remainder either sought shelter in parks in the capital Belgrade or were awaiting entry into the EU in camps at the Horgos and Kelebija border crossings with Hungary.
More than 100,000 people have entered Serbia en route to sought-after destinations in the EU so far this year. More than 650,000 people passed through Serbia last year.