North Macedonian authorities have reportedly detained a group of 142 migrants after they entered the country irregularly from Greece. The number of migrants trying to reach the EU via the Balkan route has been on the rise lately.
A group of 142 migrants was detained in North Macedonia near its southern border with Greece early Thursday (September 15), the AP news agency reported citing North Macedonian authorities.
According to AP, police said the detainees were mostly from Syria and Pakistan and were taken to a shelter pending deportation to Greece. Unlike North Macedonia, Greece is a member state of the European Union.
More than 11,000 people -- mostly from Pakistan, Syria and India -- have been stopped this year, according to AP. They usually pay criminal gangs to be smuggled through the Balkans to central and western EU countries.
Reported violence on the Balkan route
Earlier this week, NGO Save The Children published a report claiming that on the so-called Balkan route, minors were suffering "horrific violence" including electric shocks and beatings with sticks. Border police and smugglers are the most common perpetrators, according to the report.
North Macedonian police said the Balkan route for migrants has become more active in the past few months, after a lull caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and stricter border controls. According to AP, the number of people entering North Macedonia irregularly has doubled so far this year compared to the same period in 2021.
The European border agency Frontex also recently reported a considerable increase in irregular entries into the EU from the Western Balkans.