More irregular migrants than asylum seekers in Serbia

BELGRADE - Serbia registered more irregular migrants in transit to the EU than asylum seekers, it was noted during a meeting on asylum and migration on Tuesday.

Vladimir Bozovic, state secretary at the Serbian Ministry of the Interior (MUP), said at the meeting titled "Challenges in the Field of Asylum and Migration" that there has to be coordination with regional states when resolving the issue, and announced a new law on asylum seekers by the end of May which would draw a distinction between asylum seekers and irregular migrants who are just in transit.

Bozovic specified that 5,065 foreign nationals were in Serbia with the intention to seek an asylum in 2013, and that 153 applications were actually submitted, while only two people got the asylum.

"In most cases, these are just irregular migrants coming across Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, to Serbia on their way to the EU member states," Bozovic said.

By the end of February, the MUP will start implementing the ombudsman's recommendations and tightening up the border control, he said.

In 2013, the smuggling of 1,737 people was foiled, and 187 criminal lawsuits filed, while the smuggling of 206 people has been thwarted since the beginning of 2014, Bozovic said.

Ombudsman Sasa Jankovic said that his office gave around 20 recommendations for improving the situation in that field.

In the last six years, five asylums were granted in total, while 11,795 people went across Serbia and were detected in one way or another, he said.

Jankovic said that most of them were irregular migrants in transit from Africa to some EU country.

"They were not registered anywhere before along that route, no interviews were conducted with them, as...

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