Migrant smuggling suspicions prompt two arrests in Serbia

Serbian police said Thursday that they have arrested two men in separate cases of suspicion of smuggling migrants, in one incidence finding dozens of migrants living in a house in Belgrade.

Police found 34 Afghan migrants in a home in the Mirijevo borough on the outskirts of the capital and arrested the homeowner, who is now facing charges related to human trafficking, according to police.

In a separate incident in the southern town of Vladicin Han, close to Serbia's border with Macedonia and Bulgaria, police arrested a man transporting six migrants in his car, a statement said Thursday.

Meanwhile, Serbian customs officials in the western village of Batrovci stopped seven Afghan nationals hiding in a truck that was bound for Croatia. It was not clear whether the driver was smuggling them or whether they had sneaked into his trailer.

Balkan countries sealed their borders to migrants and refugees in March, blocking the massive flow of people, mainly Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans, hoping for asylum in wealthy European Union countries.

The Balkan route, however, is still used by migrants. There are thousands stranded in Serbia alone, though at a far smaller scale than during the peak of the migration crisis in 2015 and 2016.

According to figures from the UN refugee agency, there are currently about 4,400 asylum seekers and migrants in Serbian centres.

Last update: Fri, 26/08/2016 - 16:15

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