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First convoy of Serbs stuck in Slovenia on the way home

Ljubljana, 25 March - The first convoy of some 200 Serbian citizens who have been stranded in Slovenia due to Serbia closing its borders to curb the coronavirus epidemic headed for the country on Wednesday. Another one, carrying another 200 stranded Serbians, is expected to leave Slovenia on Thursday.

Ljubljana
Serbian citizens stranded in Slovenia about to leave for Serbia in an organised convoy.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Ljubljana
Serbian citizens stranded in Slovenia about to leave for Serbia in an organised convoy.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Ljubljana
Serbian citizens stranded in Slovenia about to leave for Serbia in an organised convoy.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Ljubljana
Serbian citizens stranded in Slovenia about to leave for Serbia in an organised convoy.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

The Serbians who are presently in Slovenia are being provided for at the Ježica sports hall in the Ljubljana northern outskirts Savlje, where they are offered beds and medical assistance.

The convoys, escorted by police and comprised of personal or company vehicles and not buses, will travel to Serbia via Croatia.

The mission is being coordinated by senior officials of the three countries. The Croatian authorities will take over from the Slovenian police on the border with Croatia.

The first convoy, including some 50-60 cars and vans and escorted by about 10 police vehicles, took off at around 6pm and will be followed by the other one tomorrow at a yet unspecified time, said Interior Minister Aleš Hojs, adding that at least 12 hours had to pass between the two repatriation missions.

According to the data of Slovenian authorities, some 400 Serbians have been stuck in Slovenia on their way home from other foreign countries, mostly from West and Central Europe. They are mostly immigrant workers and their families. Some have been stranded here for as long as almost a week, reported the Association of Serbians in Slovenia.

The Serbian government shut down the country's borders on Sunday to contain the spread of the virus, shutting out everybody, including Serbian citizens.

The association took care of the stranded Serbians, providing accommodation for them as well as sustenance donated by a number of Slovenian restaurants. They have also been given food by retailer Mercator, Red Cross and civil rescue services.

Reportedly, everybody arriving at the Serbian border will have to go into a 28-day quarantine to avoid spreading the virus.

aaz/mab
© STA, 2020