Balkan states il­le­gally push back mi­grants: UNHCR

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

BELGRADE: Il­le­gal de­por­ta­tions of mi­grants seek­ing to reach western Europe along the so-called Balkans route have been on the rise, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) warned yes­ter­day.

Some 1,000 peo­ple from the Mid­dle East, Asia and Africa “were ex­pelled in Novem­ber alone along the Balkans route... more than be­fore”, the UNHCR spokes­woman in Ser­bia, Mir­jana Milenkovska, told AFP. Hun­dreds of thou­sands of mi­grants took the Balkans route through Mace­do­nia and Ser­bia, Croa­tia and Hun­gary as they tried to reach western Europe from Greece be­fore it was largely shut down in March.

Non-gov­ern­men­tal hu­man rights or­gan­i­sa­tions and ac­tivists also warned that an in­creas­ing num­ber of legally-regis­tered mi­grants were be­ing “il­le­gally de­ported” from Ser­bia to Bul­garia and Mace­do­nia.

On De­cem­ber 17 “a seven-mem­ber Syr­ian fam­ily, in­clud­ing a two-year old child, 16-year old girl and two women al­most froze af­ter be­ing left in a for­est in - 11 Cel­sius de­grees (12.2 Fahren­heit) to walk to­wards Bul­garia some one kilo­me­tre (half a mile) away,” an ac­tivist said.

“The fam­ily was regis­tered in Belgrade and on its way to a refugee cen­tre, when they were taken off the bus by a po­lice or army unit that tore their doc­u­ments,” said Gor­dan Paunovic of the Info Park group that pro­vides help to refugees. They were even­tu­ally res­cued by a reg­u­lar po­lice of­fi­cer from a nearby town who was alerted by ac­tivists, Paunovic said.

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