Serbian authorities have reported that an estimated 3,500 migrants are currently living in the country. Nearly 3,000 people live in hosting facilities, while the others are living outdoors, including in parks, according to Vladimir Cucic, the local commissioner for refugees and migration.
On average 30,000 to 40,000 migrants cross into Serbia each year. The migrants travel from central Asia and the Middle East along the Balkan route to reach western European countries, Cucic said. The majority are economic migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, according to the refugee commissioner.
During the peak of the migrant crisis in 2015-2016, over one million migrants traveled through Serbia on their way to western Europe.
'Friendly phone call' between Salvini and Serbian counterpart
Last week Italian Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and his Serbian counterpart Neboja Stefanovi had a "friendly phone call," according to the Italian interior ministry. The talks focused on "relations between Rome and Belgrade and the cooperation to stop the arrival of illegal migrants along the Balkan route," ministry sources said.
Salvini reportedly confirmed his support for a ''quick Serbian adhesion to the European Union''.
The Serbian interior ministry said in a statement that Stefanovic expressed interest in strengthening cooperation between the two countries' police forces, in particular to fight illegal immigration. Stefanovic reportedly said that Serbia is ready to be part of a joint European response to the migrant crisis. He said cooperation with Italy was a priority to reach a solution.
Stefanovic, according to a statement issued by his ministry, invited Salvini to visit Serbia, which the Italian minister accepted.