Serbian authorities moved hundreds of migrants from dilapidated buildings in the center of Belgrade to special reception centers on Friday, ending a months-long standoff.
Migrants in Belgrade had sleeping in abandoned premises near the city’s railway station and at other makeshift shelters since ever Hungary and Croatia closed their borders travelling the so-called 'Balkan route'.
Many desperate people from faraway countries had been struggling to survive for months by lighting campfires in living areas surrounded by boxes and covered with cardboard to protect them from winter temperatures.
Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said on Friday government representative had been asking the migrants to go to reception centers for months.
"They finally understood that it is better to take cover in the institutions that are equipped for living, instead of living in ruined buildings," Stefanovic said.
Since Monday, officials from the Interior Ministry have moved about 1,000 migrants from the streets to the reception centers.
However, the non-EU member still faces significant challenges from the migrant crisis.
There are around 8,000 migrants still in Serbia; the security forces have also returned about 20,000 people who had tried to cross the country’s borders illegally.
Police say they have arrested around 2,000 human traffickers since the migrant crisis began.
"Belgrade is the only metropolis that solved this problem without violence. Thank you, the citizens of Belgrade for your patience and humanity," said Social Affairs Minister Aleksandar Vulin.
After moving the migrants, the buildings were strewn with old blankets, chairs and clothes. The structures are to be demolished.