"Smugglers charge Kurdish migrants up to EUR 4,000"

PODGORICA -- Turkish citizens are enlisting the help of transportation firms and taxi drivers from Montenegro to smuggle illegal migrants, mostly Kurds.

(Beta/AP, file)
(Beta/AP, file)

According to the Podgorica-based daily Vijesti, citing police documents, migrants pay from EUR 3,500 to 4,000 per person to be transfered to Europe. There are three main routes used to smuggle Kurds and others across the territory of Montenegro.

The first are Istanbul-Podgorica flights, after which migrants are taken by road to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and then Italy.

The second direction is the air route Istanbul-Tirana, or Istanbul-Macedonia -Albania bus lines, which continues when immigrants are taken in cars or taxis to Ulcinj in Montenegro, and then to Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy.

The third smuggling route goes from Albania via Montenegro to Serbia, toward Austria via Belgrade and Subotica.

According to the police, Montenegro is also a transfer country for illegal migrants from Pakistan, Algeria, Morocco, Afghanistan, Syria, Tunisia.

According to the police's "Assessment of the risk of serious and organized crime in Montenegro," the country is still mainly used for transit, while it estimates that the main objective of most illegal migrants seeking asylum in Montenegro will be to ensure "a few days of rest and to collect money for their journey before they leave the territory of Montenegro, and move forward in the direction of the European Union."

Turkish smugglers organizing transfers of migrants from Syria "do not always use the territory of Montenegro - but also the maritime route from Turkey to Greece and on to Italy, possibly via Tunisia," said the article.

"With regard to the modus operandi of Turkish smugglers, there is a real danger that in the coming period they will try to take advantage of the Montenegrin coast to transfer migrants to Italy using small boats," reads the document, which also estimates that criminals will "intensify their activities to transfer illegal migrants from the territory of Montenegro across the Adriatic Sea, and by land towards Croatia, directly or indirectly via the border with Bosnia."