Balkan states illegally push back migrants: UNHCR
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.