Police in North Macedonia say that they have discovered 53 people crammed inside a truck. The driver of the vehicle was reportedly arrested during the police operation.
The police said that 34 of the migrants came from India and 19 from Cuba. The discovery came during a routine check at a toll station near the northern town of Kumanovo on Monday evening.
The 53 migrants are believed to have entered North Macedonia using irregular means from neighboring Serbia. The 39-year-old truck driver, who reportedly is a Macedonian national, was arrested. According to news agency AP, the migrants were transferred to a migrant shelter pending deportation back to Serbia.
This was the third large group of migrants to have been intercepted over the past three weeks in North Macedonia. Over the years, there have been numerous similar police operations in North Macedonia where migrants stowed away in trucks and other vehicles were found.
Changes in migrant routes
North Macedonia used to be one of the main routes for migrants seeking to reach the EU. The small Balkan country is located just north of Greece, which is one of the European Union member states that receives the highest number of refugees and migrants.
The COVID-19 pandemic and stricter border controls over the past year and a half have forced many migrants to seek alternative routes into the EU, including dangerous sea journeys from northern Africa. Moreover, land routes in the Balkans through Serbia and other countries are becoming increasingly difficult for migrants.