Migrants in Serbia: Between acceptance, combating illegal immigration and the smugglers

In the past several months, the authorities have prevented the illegal entry of approximately 7,500 migrants on Serbian soil – Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said on Sunday.

“In the past 7-8 months, we have sent back approximately 7,500 migrants who refused to enter Serbia legally. Their first contact with Serbia cannot be by breaking the law,” Stefanovic told TV Pink.

He accused some nongovernmental organisations in the country of “encouraging a new climate where it is insinuated that something terrible is happening to migrants in Serbia.”

Reception centres in Serbia have some 6,000 beds, but it is estimated that another 1,000 -1,200 migrants are outside the system that provides them with accommodation and meals. Several hundred migrants are currently staying in abandoned warehouses near the central bus station.

Serbian Labour Minister Aleksandar Vulin said then that Serbia would not increase capacities of its reception centres from the current 6,000 beds, describing the migrant accommodation in that country as the best one on the Balkan route. The aid will be allocated for food in migrant centres across Serbia, he added.

The EU is impressed with the way Serbian authorities are handling the migrant crisis and with Serbia’s economic reforms. Christian Danielsson, the European Commission’s director general for neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations, said in Belgrade on Thursday.

At a press conference following the handover of 82 vehicles donated to the Serbian Interior Ministry, Danielsson said he was satisfied with the cooperation on tackling the migrant crisis and the way Serbian authorities viewed and handled the issue, Tanjug reported.

He added that the EU had donated EUR 50 million to Serbia since the start of the migrant / refugee crisis. “We, in the EU, are impressed with the way that Serbia is solving the problem of the migrant crisis,” the agency quoted Danielsson as saying, as he handed over the keys to 82 vehicles to the Serbian Interior Ministry, along with 24 vehicles for the Commissariat for Refugees.

(EBL News, IN News, 26.02.2017)



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