Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) police said Tuesday they found 69 migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria hidden in a truck heading from the border with Greece towards Serbia.
Many refugees and migrants, often hidden in cars and trucks, try to pass through FYROM ever since the Balkan countries closed their borders in February hampering the journey further north towards the EU.
Police in FYROM and Serbia have found more migrants seeking alternative routes turning to local smugglers.
The latest intercepted group of 69 migrants, all found alive, was discovered on Monday in a truck on the highway from Gevgelija at the southern border to the capital Skopje, the interior ministry said in a statement.
Six migrants were transferred to a Skopje reception centre, while others were returned to Gevgelija’s interim transit centre from where they will be sent back to Greece.
Out of 53,600 migrants and refugees currently in Greece, more than 9,600 have been stranded for weeks at Idomeni on the Greece-FYROM border after the route through the Balkan states was closed.
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) more than 185,000 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea so far this year, arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain.
Since the beginning of the year 1,357 people have died on the three major Mediterranean Sea routes connecting North Africa and the Middle East to Europe, IOM said.