Since Serbia’s Government abolished visa requirements for Iranians more than a year ago, the number of Iranian migrants in Bosnia increased drastically because they can travel to Serbia as tourists.
The number of Iranian migrants that have entered Bosnia in 2018 is more than 100 times higher than the year before.
According to data from Bosnia’s Foreigner’s Affairs Service, 16 Iranians have requested asylum in the country last year. But only until September this year, this number stands at 1,647 already.
After 27 years, the first Iran Air aeroplane has landed in Belgrade in March this year. Two more followed suit the same month - Qeshm Air and Mahan Air. More than 20,000 passengers have arrived in Serbia from Iransince then.
According to Serbia’s Statistics Agency, nearly 16,000 Iranian tourists have stayed in Serbia within the first seven months of the year.
According to the director of Serbia’s Info Park, a refugee centre in Belgrade, part of the Iranian tourists coming to Belgrade continue their path illegally toward Western Europe.
‘If the numbers of tourists coming from Iran on arriving flights to Belgrade are compared to those returning to Teheran, there is a 30 percent difference. The people who are missing on returning flights continue their path toward Europe,’ Paunovic said.
He said that, according to data which the Info Park got with the help various of NGO’s, including FRONTEX, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, more than 40,000 Iranians have entered Serbia since the visa requirement was abolished.
The ‘fake Iranian tourists’ issue was also raised by the Chairman of Bosnia’s Council of Ministers, Denis Zvizdic, who said he alarmed European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn about it.
‘The issue is that Serbia abolished the visas, establishing a non-visa regime between Serbia and Iran,’ he said, pointing out that there are three direct flights to Serbia from Iran within this week.
‘Fact is that they come to Serbia as tourists, and emerge in Bosnia without any identification documents. Of course, this will be stopped. It will have to,’ Zvizdic said.
Of the total number of Iranian migrants that have entered Bosnia this year, mostly via Serbia, 50 were accommodated in an immigration centre, 66 were sent back to the country they came from, and 18 returned voluntarily.