SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — A Macedonian police raid has found 128 migrants and refugees, mostly from Iraq and Syria, hiding in a northern border village as they make their way across the Balkans toward the more prosperous countries of the European Union.
The migrants, mostly from Syria and Iraq, were found in five houses in Vaksince, about 55 kilometers (35 miles) north of the capital, Skopje, police said Thursday.
Macedonia has become one of the main transit routes for thousands of migrants from the Middle East and Africa who enter the European Union in Greece from Turkey and then make their way overland on foot to the more prosperous northern countries.
Most of the people in the group were men, but there were also women and children among them, including a 3-year-old, police spokesman Ivo Kotevski said.
Police said the owners were renting out the houses for 1,500 euros ($1,685) per month, or were charging the migrants 10 euros ($11) daily for accommodation. Police plan to charge four people with people smuggling.
"All the migrants came from Greece and were on their way to the richer West European countries," Kotevski said. "The migrants told police that none of them was a victim of violence, threat or blackmailing."
All have been transferred to Macedonia's main asylum seekers' center.