SARAJEVO, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- Members of Bosnia and Herzegovina's (BiH's) local police have intercepted 22 illegal migrants on Saturday in the area around Bijeljina, a city located some 180 kilometers northeast of the capital Sarajevo.
The illegal migrants have entered the territory of BiH from neighboring Serbia, and were found in two separate groups, Bijeljina Ministry of Internal Affairs said in a press statement.
"One citizen of Algeria, one citizen of Morocco, 17 citizens of India and three of Pakistan were found without any identification documents," police added.
This was one of the biggest interceptions of illegal migrants on the territory of BiH, and all are handed over to officials of BiH Border Police for further action.
A total of 23,541 migrants entered the territory of BiH from Jan. 1, 2018 to Dec. 19, 2018, BiH Council of Ministers (CoM) stated at a regular session in December 2018.
Out of the total number, 22,177 migrants expressed their intention for asylum, but 1,358 actually applied for asylum, the information from BiH Foreigners Office showed.
Currently, there are between 4,000 and 5,000 migrants on the territory of BiH, mainly near the cities near the border with Croatia, from where migrants are attempting to enter the European Union (EU) countries.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants passed through the so-called "Balkan route" in 2015, trying to reach Western Europe. BiH was then not part of that route. The increasing number of migrants was recorded from the end of 2017, and since January this year, over 23,500 migrants and refugees arrived through Serbia and Montenegro, compared to a mere 755 in 2017.