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RFE/RL's Balkan Service Coverage Leads To Macedonia Trafficking Bust

Coverage from RFE/RL's Balkan Service highlighting the dangerous plight of illegal migrants on the Macedonia-Serbia border led to the breaking-up of a human trafficking ring.

In January, Radio Slobodna Evropa released three reports about migrants from Asia and Africa who crossed illegally through the border villages of Lojane and Vaksince on their way to destinations throughout Europe. The coverage documented tensions with authorities, frustrations of local residents, and a desperate waiting game for migrants. In a video report, local municipal head Seljami Mehmeti called for police to stem the flow of migrants into Lojane. "The organizers [of this migrant route] should be found," Mehmeti said. "We should find the criminals who are bringing [the migrants] here and taking money from them."

Zoran Kuka, Head of RFE/RL's Macedonia Service, said the reports "shed light on the topic of illegal immigration which is underreported in Macedonian media. Our interviews with Ivo Kotevski, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, and Seljami Mehmeti brought this issue to the attention of the public."

The April arrests -- which came just two weeks after an RFE/RL report on continued illegal migration through Lojane -- included two men who were charged with "trafficking immigrants, kidnapping and robbery."