BRUSSELS – The Latest on Europe's migrant crisis (all times local):
Serbia says migrant pressure on the Balkan country's borders has increased with more than 1,000 people attempting to cross illegally from Macedonia and Bulgaria in just five days.
Serbia's Defense Ministry said Thursday that joint police and army patrols have caught eight suspected people smugglers in three separate locations, transporting nearly one hundred migrants in vans and cars.
The statement says that since July 22, border patrols have discovered some 6,500 migrants trying to cross into the country, most of whom turned back while 836 remained in Serbia's asylum centers.
Officials have warned of a possible surge in migrant arrivals as summer's end may avert many from using the more dangerous way into Europe over the Mediterranean Sea.
Croatian police also has reported an increase in migrant crossings from Serbia.
The European Union will begin next month providing money to refugees in Turkey so they can pay for their own food, housing and education.
The EU's executive arm announced Thursday that under the 348 million euro ($393 million) program debit cards will be distributed to up to one million vulnerable refugees by the first quarter of 2017.
The cards can be topped up monthly, with payments dependent on the size and needs of families. The European Commission says safeguards are in place to ensure the money is correctly spent.
Turkey is home to an estimated three million refugees. The program is part of an agreement the EU has with Turkey to provide up to six billion euros, fast-track membership talks and visa-free travel if Ankara stops migrants heading to Europe.