Serbia deploys army near border to protect against migrants
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia has sent its army to a town near the border with Croatia where hundreds of migrants remain stranded in hopes of reaching the European Union. The Defense Ministry said on Saturday that President Aleksandar Vucic ordered the troop deployment to “secure” three migrant camps near the western town of Sid that are housing some 1,500 people, mostly from Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Vucic said he ordered the deployment to protect the local population from alleged harassment and robberies committed by the migrants. He told TV Prva that after a state of emergency imposed to fight the coronavirus spread in Serbia was lifted earlier this month, the migrants started venturing outside their camps, committing “petty crimes and illegal entries into houses.”
“Because of that people are feeling unsafe,” Vucic said. There is increased popular resentment toward the migrants and frequent unsanctioned protests by far-right groups are held in front of the camps.
There are an estimated 4,000 migrants stranded in Serbia, one of the main transit routes through the Balkans for people fleeing wars and poverty. Greece, a country that has struggled to manage large numbers of migrants crossing its borders, took steps Saturday to reunite minors with their families.
Twenty-three minors, most of them from Afghanistan, left Athens on Saturday for Switzerland, where they will be eventually reunited with their families, Greek authorities said. Deputy Migration and Asylum Minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos said 508 asylum applicants will soon depart Greece.