North Macedonia: At least 34 irregular migrants injured in highway accident, another 240 detained for illegal border crossings.

At least 34 Afghan irregular migrants and a truck driver were injured in a highway accident on 20 July 2019, North Macedonian police said.

The 24-year-old North Macedonian truck driver was taking the Afghan irregular migrants north towards Serbia when police patrol followed them. To avoid police, the driver reportedly jumped from the truck on the main highway, while the vehicle continued moving and eventually overturned. The truck ended up in a 14-metre-deep gorge on the side of the highway.

Three of the passengers and the driver were reported to have sustained serious injuries. Children were also reported to be among the injured. All passengers and the driver were transported to nearby hospitals.

The route through North Macedonia from Greece is frequently taken by irregular migrants trying to get to wealthier European countries. Despite border closures in 2016, thousands continue to move through the Balkans from Turkey through illegal means.

In the weeks following this incident, North Macedonian police said they detained and will deport at least 240 irregular migrants who crossed illegally from Greece. The first of the two incidents took place on 29 July 2019, when police found 79 irregular migrants hidden in a truck near the Greece-North Macedonia border. The irregular migrants were found in a joint border patrol force from North Macedonia and Hungary in the town of Gevgelija. The truck driver has been arrested. The nationalities of the irregular migrants were not released in the police statement.

The second incident took place on 9 August 2019. North Macedonian police said they found 161 irregular migrants from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Somalia and Eritrea travelling in four groups overnight.

Both groups of irregular migrants were taken to a detention centre in the southern town of Gevgelija. All detained irregular migrants will be deported back to Greece, according to police.

TMP – 27/08/2019

Photo credit: Giovanni Vale/Shutterstock

Photo caption: Gevgelija, Macedonia – February 11, 2016: Policeman with irregular migrants in a transit camp.