Pressure of illegal migrants on Serbian-Bulgarian border growing, says official

The pressure of illegal migrants trying to enter Serbia across its eastern border from Bulgaria, in the areas of Negotin and Dimitrovgrad, has increased in the last two weeks, a spokesman for joint Serbian army and police forces patrolling the border with Macedonia and Bulgaria said on Thursday.

"Migrants have been trying to enter Serbia in all ways possible, by using forest trails and routes that are difficult to access, in the hope that our patrols will not detect them... We have been changing our tactic daily so as to prevent them from doing so," Jovan Krivokapic told Serbian Radio-Television.

In line with a government decision of June 22, Serbian army and police forces have been patrolling daily the border with Macedonia and Bulgaria, from where most illegal migrants, travelling to Western Europe via Hungary and Croatia, attempt to enter Serbia.

Krivokapic said that since mid-June around 7,500 people had been caught while trying to cross the border illegally into the country. The joint army and police patrols have broken up several people smuggling rings.

All those who want to stay in Serbia are accommodated in reception centres and enter further procedure in line with international regulations and conventions.

Asked if erecting a fence on the border could be a solution to preventing illegal migrations, Krivokapic said that that decision could be made by the state authorities and that joint police and army forces had the duty to carry out their decisions on the ground.

Serbian Labour Minister Aleksandar Vulin said earlier that Serbia could take more radical action to prevent illegal migrations, especially in light of the fact that lately mostly economic migrants from Pakistan and Afghanistan had been entering the country.

"Our army and police are patrolling the border, but maybe barriers are a solution to reducing the number of migrants... Economic migrants are not welcome in Europe and they can't stay in Serbia either," said Vulin.

The migrant crisis was one of the topics discussed two days ago in Burgas, Bulgaria by the prime ministers of Serbia, Bulgaria and Hungary.

Vulin said the talks focused "on the current status of the migrant crisis, with special emphasis on the changed structure of migrants."

He said the three prime ministers expressed deep concern about the fact that the migrant and refugee crisis was not waning.

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