There are currently over 4,500 migrants and refugees in Serbia's reception centres, according to local authorities. Afghans and Syrians are the largest national groups among them.
Serbia was hosting more than 4,500 migrants and refugees -- including 322 minors -- in its 13 reception centres as of mid-December, the country’s commissioner for refugees and migration announced on Saturday.
Among those hosted at the centre, 35% were reportedly from Afghanistan, 22% from Syria, 11% from Bangladesh, and 7% from Pakistan.
Balkan route: Transit country for migrants, refugees
Serbia is seen as a transit country by many migrants and refugees who are attempting to reach Western Europe by crossing through the Balkans from Greece, Bulgaria and/or Turkey -- the so-called Balkan Route.
Serbia is not a member of the European Union or the Schengen area - a group of 26 European countries that have largely abolished border controls at their shared borders. But it borders on EU member Croatia, which many migrants and refugees attempt to cross to eventually reach western EU countries like Italy, Austria or Germany.
In 2015, over a million refugees and migrants - mostly from Syria - crossed westward through Serbia, during what is often referred to as the European 'migration crisis' or 'refugee crisis'. Since then, many Balkan countries have fortified their borders and introduced tougher border controls. In spite of this, thousands of people are still trying to make it into EU countries like Italy or Germany via the Balkans.