Collective center for migrants to open in Presevo

Serbia's labor and defense ministers Aleksandar Vulin and Bratislav Gasic on Monday spoke with migrants in Presevo, southern Serbia.

Source: Tanjug

They are refugees from African and Asian countries who are arriving in this town after crossing into Serbia from Macedonia.

The two ministers announced the opening of a collective center in Presevo to accommodate them.

Vulin and Gasic toured a facility that is being adapted to accommodate migrants and spoke with migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea and other countries, for whom Serbia is a transit country on their way to European Union.

Food, medicine and other necessary aid has been provided to migrants, and another temporary collective center - that will accommodate around 300 refugees, who are arriving on a daily basis - will be ready by Friday, said Vulin, who heads a government work group set up to deal with the issue of migrants.

By late Sunday, security services, border police and the Gendarmerie turned away 520 people who had attempted to cross the border illegally in 17 groups, Vulin said.

At the same time, 170 asylum seekers in Serbia have received their documents and police procedures have been expedited, Vulin said.

Gasic said that members of the Serbian Armed Forces and other security services are engaged in Presevo, most of all, in providing health care.

The minister said that the Nis military hospital has set up a triage and emergency medical assistance checkpoint in Presevo.

"No reason for concern"

While in Presevo, Bratislav Gasic said that citizens of Serbia have no reason to be concerned about the increased number of migrants.

"All Serbian security structures absolutely guarantee the safety of all citizens of Serbia and also, of course, of all those who enter the country," Gasic told reporters.

The minister pointed out that the government set up a special team in charge of the migrant issue, which is led by Gendarmerie Commander Goran Dragovic.

The first migrants who made their way to the border crossing Presevo, south central Serbia, and sought asylum were registered back in 2009, "but they were only isolated cases," Tanjug said, adding that there are now more than 3,000 people from Syria, Jordan, and Iraq fleeing conflicts in their countries and hoping to reach western Europe.

"Trend to continue"

The trend of increasing number of refugees entering and passing through Serbia will continue, said UNHCR Representative in Serbia Hans Friedrich Schodder.

In an interview to Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) late on Sunday, Schodder said that Serbia can rely on the assistance of the international community in addressing this problem, stressing that it is important to keep the borders open to migrants.

The majority of refugees only pass through Serbia on their way to Western and Northern Europe, and only a small number choose to stay in the country, the UNHCR representative in Serbia said.

He pointed out that compared to other countries; Serbia has raised its capacities for the registration of migrants, issuance of travel documents and distribution of humanitarian aid. On the other hand, procedures for those who want to stay in the country need to be improved and these persons should be granted refugee status as soon as possible, said Schodder.


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