Migrants gathering in an abandoned warehouse near the border with Croatia in Adasevac, Serbia | Photo: EPA/KOCA SULEJMANOVIC
Migrants gathering in an abandoned warehouse near the border with Croatia in Adasevac, Serbia | Photo: EPA/KOCA SULEJMANOVIC

The number of migrants in Serbian reception centers has fallen significantly. Meanwhile, authorities throughout the Balkans are continuing operations to arrest traffickers.

A total of 2,412 migrants are currently in Serbian migrant reception centers, according to a presentation on Tuesday by the EU-supported project "Let's Celebrate Diversity." 

That's far fewer than in previous months, when there were 3,000 and 4,000 migrants in the country.

Observers say that the majority of migrants intend to continue their journeys toward countries in the western European Union, with just a small minority planning to seek asylum in Serbia. 

At the height of the so-called refugee crisis in 2015-2016, over a million people crossed through Serbia, which is part of the so-called Balkan route. Most of them were headed towards Germany, Austria, Sweden and other prosperous countries in the European Union. (Serbia is not in the EU, but it's neighbor Croatia is.) 

Traffickers arrested in Croatia and Bosnia 

Authorities in the Balkan countries are conducting operations against human traffickers and irregular migrant crossings.

On August 27, Croatian police arrested 13 people suspected of human trafficking. They were allegedly involved in smuggling migrants from Bosnia-Herzegovina to Slovenia, crossing through Croatian territory. 

Local media sources said more than 100 migrants had been transported towards Slovenia by these people since December, paying between 100 and 1,000 euros each. 

Also on August 27, in Bosnia, police arrested three Bosnian citizens at the Croatian border who were driving three vehicles with 16 Iraqi migrants who didn't have visas aboard, including seven minors. The suspects were charged with human trafficking, local media said. 

North Macedonia, 30 migrants in an abandoned truck

On Monday, police in North Macedonia found 30 migrants in an abandoned truck along a road near Strumica, located in the country's southeast not far from the border with Greece and Bulgaria. 

Local media said there were 24 Pakistani, three Iraqi, two Syrian and one Sudanese citizen inside the vehicle. All of them reportedly entered North Macedonia without a visa, most likely from Greece. 

The migrants allegedly paid traffickers with the goal of crossing into Serbia and continuing towards Western Europe. 

The 30 migrants were taken to a reception center in Gevgelija, before being handed back over to Greek authorities. According to data released by police in North Macedonia, a total of 10,017 migrants who tried to enter the country irregularly were stopped in the first half of this year. 

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