Belgrade, 11 July 2019 – Italian Minister of the Interior Mateo Salvini recently closed the country’s migrant center in Sicily, the largest one in Europe. Salvini stated in defense of this closure that the number of migrants in the center has been reduced from 182,000 in 2018 to 107,000 in 2019. With this popular migrant center now closed, the question becomes what routes the migrants will take to successfully get to Europe.
Director of the Asylum Protection Center Radoš Đurović says that “these moves, which are dramatic and have a strong public response, are sending the message that migrants are not welcome and that Italy will not be the first nor the last to strike the migrants when it comes to the EU.”
Italy has sharply reduced its fundings for reception centers, but this reduction does not necessarily mean that the coutnry will see a dramatic drop of its migrant influx. Djurović attributes this incessant arrival of migrants on Italy’s shores to the way in Libya. He writes that “the Libyan Coast Guard is preventing people from reaching ships and international waters, where everyone is obliged to help.”
Djurović acknowledges the decrease of the number of migrants in Europe but claims that the figures are not realistic due to people passing through under the radar. He cautions that the immigration crisis is still very intense.
He added that the closure of the center in Sicily will not affect the opening of new routes for migrants. Most of them come to Europe from Turkey, via the Balkans, and the route from Morocco via Spain is also significant. The other routes are only temporary.
Migrants in the Balkans – a problem without a solution
In the last few weeks, there have been at least 400 people attempting to enter Bosnia and Herzegovina from Serbia. Once in Bosnia, these people then move through Croatia and Slovenia before arriving in Italy.
“These people are largely attempting to reach the Italian region of Trieste. From there, they hope to continue on to other parts of Europe. Perhaps Tireste being the first location for many migrants is one of the reasons why Salvini is visiting Serbia – to duscuss how to solve the issue of this dominant route.“
This being said, Serbia is not the only country from which migrants are entering Italy.
When it comes to the “Balkan route”, in the last few weeks every week at least 400 people try or enter Bosnia and Herzegovina from Serbia. They continue through Croatia, via Slovenia, to Italy. “A large number of people are being pushed illegally back from Croatia, and then Serbia is receiving them. Because of its geopolitical position, Serbia is becoming a sort of purgatory or buffer zone. This leads to major problems,” cautioned Djurović.
Djurović claims that the solution of this global problem is not in sight and that Serbia and Bosnia have become countries were migrants are stuck without the agency to solve these world problems by themselves.