Migrants and refugees rest on the ground as they wait to continue their journey towards western Europe from the Macedonia-Serbia border at a transit camp in the village of Presevo, Serbia (Darrin Zammit Lupi / Reuters)
Serbia closed its border with Macedonia to illegal migrants this week. The Serbian government will only allow passage to those refugees affected by war.
Serbia, a country of 9 million people, feared it would become a massive refugee camp for migrants after Croatia to the north closed its border recently. 600,000 migrants passed through Serbia last year.
Russia Today reported:
Serbia has closed its border with Macedonia to unregistered refugees, imposing stricter border controls for the purpose of preventing illegal migration, local state TV reported citing officials.
The Serbian border with Macedonia has been closed to refugees who have not been registered at the Greek-Macedonia border in accordance with the Thursday agreement between the countries of the so-called ‘Balkans route,’ RTS TV reported, citing police.
The Serbian Interior Ministry spokeswoman, Biljana Popovic Ivkovic, said that the border with Macedonia is not closed, but that passage is allowed only to refugees from countries affected by war.
“As of today, the signatories to the protocol are actually profiling the migrants, which means stricter border control for the purpose of preventing illegal migration,” she said.
The protocol agreed upon by Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian, Macedonian and Austrian police chiefs envisions collecting identification and biometric information from refugees, in order to determine whether they are coming from countries where their lives are in danger, such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The refugees will not be given the status of asylum seekers immediately upon registration at the Greek-Macedonian border, Reuters reported, adding that this will be done later in the country to which they are traveling.