Police in North Macedonia said 11 migrants sustained serious injuries in a car accident that happened Sunday near the town of Shtip. It’s the third migrant car accident the country has reported in one week.
The car, reportedly packed with migrants, crashed into an oncoming
truck and another car late Sunday on a secondary road, the news agency AP
Ten Pakistanis and one Afghan were taken to hospital with serious injuries, according to police statements given Monday, July 13.
The car was said to be driving with local plates and the driver, now wanted on trafficking charges, fled the scene.
According to AP, this was the third serious migrant road accident in one week.
Third serious accident
Last week Tuesday (July 7) eight migrants were injured in an accident near the border with Greece.
The pickup van had been driving at high speed when it crashed into a car and then hit several parked cars in the town of Strumica. It was transporting 32 migrants – 15 Afghans, nine Pakistanis, six Bangadeshis, one Syrian and one Iraqi, authorities said.
Eight migrants were taken to hospital, two of them with serious injuries. The remaining 24 migrants were taken to a migrant center in Gevgelija pending deportation to Greece, from where they are believed to have crossed into North Macedonia, AP reported.
The driver, a 27-year-old North Macedonian national, was arrested on trafficking charges.
Trafficking networks active
The accident on July 7 followed an incident on July 6 when authorities said they discovered 211 migrants hidden in a truck during a routine traffic control in the south of the country, only a few weeks after 64 Bangladeshi migrants had been found crammed in a truck that was driving them away from the Greek border on June 22.
Although the Greek-Macedonian border was closed earlier in the year due to the coronavirus pandemic, attempts by migrants to cross from Turkey via Greece to northern European countries continue, and trafficking networks remain active. News agency dpa reports that migrants in the region often pay smugglers to take them to the next border, sometimes risking their lives in the process.
North Macedonia is at the southern tip of the Balkan route which was officially closed in March 2016 after more than 1 million migrants and refugees passed it in a 10-month time period starting in 2015.