Emergency state to be extended due to migrants

Irregular migration exists and that is why it is necessary to extend the state of emergency at the northern and southern borders, CSOs representatives claim. The Government submitted a bill to the Parliament to extend the state of emergency until 31st of December 2018. Refugees and migrants transiting through Macedonia on their way to western EU countries are faced with challenges, some of them are victims of smugglers and therefore need institutional protection, activist Jasmin Redjepi from Legis says, commenting on the Government’s bill to extend the state of emergency due to the situation with the refugees and migrants.

 “We, the NGO sector, are on the field, and so are the government institutions in both transit border centres in order to provide help to those people. Should the state of emergency not be extended, then it is a matter of question what will happen to the transit centers and how help will be provided and how those transiting irregularly will be protected”, Redjepi comments.

The Government submitted a bill to extend the state of emergency until 31st of December 2018 due to the increased flow of refugees and migrants in transit. The proposed law is being considered today by the Parliament’s Commission for Defense and Security, and is put on the agenda for the plenary session on 21 May.

The state of emergency was proclaimed back in August 2015 and since then it  has been extended several times due to the transit of migrants through Macedonia, according to the analysis carried out by security institutions. Now the Government asks that the state of emergency be extended until 31st of December 2018.

The bill states that the aim is to provide continuity of the activities of the army and the Ministry of Interior in providing protection and securing the borders.

Redjepi affirms that at the moment in Vinojug, the transit center in Gevgelija, around thirty refugees/migrants are residing, while in the one in Tabanovce there are around ten residents, it’s a number that fluctuates on a daily basis, and this has been going on for a year.

In terms of irregular migration, Redjepi draws on reports of Legis according to which around 5000 people transited through Macedonia, from Greece or Serbia, from August 2016 onwards.

“From April 2017 – April 2018 around 900 transited through our territory. Some of them go north, others return going south”, Redjepi observed.

The situation in Macedonia regarding refugees and migrants is relatively calm as stated in CSOs reports.

The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in its latest report notes that there is a frequent movement of individuals and groups coming from Greece or returning from Serbia and that there are no significant changes in the camps.

“Mixed police patrols are still present along the southern border in Gevgelija, and in March there were police officers from the Czech Republic and Austria. A new team of police officers from Hungary has arrived, too. Moreover, Belarus police officers visited the transit camp of Vinojug, Gevgelija in March this year”, employees of the Helsinki Committee added.

According to the statistical data of IOM, from 1-20 March 2018, 263 migrants transited in both direction of movement (Greece and Serbia).

Source: Radio Slobodna Evropa