Migrants end hunger strike at Serbia-Hungary border
July 29 2016 08:05 PM
Pakistani migrants staging hunger strike at Serbia border.
Pakistani migrants staging hunger strike at Serbia border.

AFP/Belgrade

Around 90 migrants on Friday ended a days-long hunger strike they had staged at Serbia's border with Hungary in a bid to be allowed to continue their journey across the closed frontier, the UN refuge agency said.

The migrants, mostly young men from Afghanistan and Pakistan, arrived at the Horgos crossing at the weekend to protest against the closure of Hungary's border and tough new measures introduced this month to tighten security.
Last Friday some 300 migrants set off on foot from the Serbian capital Belgrade, around 200 kilometres (124 miles) south. But only about 90 arrived at the border and went on hunger strike.
According to their leader, some protesters had health problems due to the hot summer weather while also the "response to their demands was not what they have expected," a spokeswoman for UNHCR in Serbia told AFP.
"They were hoping to go through (to Hungary), but nevertheless they managed to be heard at least."
The migrants were to be transferred to reception centres in Serbia later on Friday, she added.
The protesters staged their hunger strike just 300 metres (yards) away from a makeshift camp with several hundred migrants and refugees.
Serbia lies on the so-called Balkan route taken by hundreds of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa since last year on their way to western Europe.
Although the route was effectively shut down in March, migrants have continued to cross the region in smaller numbers, often with the help of smugglers.
The number of migrants blocked inside Serbia has grown significantly since Hungary introduced tough new measures this month to stop them crossing the border.
According to UNHCR in Serbia, there are currently around 3,600 migrants in the country, most of them in makeshift camps along the Hungarian border.
Earlier this month Belgrade decided to launch joint police and army patrols to beef up its borders.
Serbian authorities said recently that 102,000 migrants had been registered since the start of the year -- more than 500 a day.
In Serbia's southern neighbour Macedonia, army and police prevented some 18,000 illegal entries since March, President Gjorge Ivanov said Thursday.
Despite the closing of the Balkan route, the army noticed an "increased number of illegal (entry) attempts, as well as illegal trafficking of migrants through our territory," Ivanov said, quoted by state-run MIA news agency, while visiting the southern border with Greece.



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