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Amnesty Accuses Balkan Countries of Abusing Migrants

FILE - Afghan migrants rest in the open as others pass by after crossing illegally into Macedonia from Greece, near the town of Gevgelija, Macedonia, May 6, 2015.

The human rights group Amnesty International accused Balkan countries of abusing migrants passing through their territories on the way to the European Union.

In a report released Tuesday, Amnesty said refugees and migrants fleeing conflict in Syria, Afghanistan and other crisis zones endure beatings and extortion during the journey that takes them by sea from Turkey to Greece and then overland across Macedonia and Serbia into Hungary.

Amnesty's report is based on four research missions to Serbia, Hungary, Greece and Macedonia between July 2014 and March 2015 and interviews with more than 100 refugees and migrants.

The Balkan route is increasingly being used by migrants who view it as less dangerous than crossing the Mediterranean by boat from North Africa.

European nations are struggling to deal with increasing numbers of people who cross the Mediterranean in rickety boats or trek across the Balkans to escape violence and hardship in the Middle East and North Africa.

More than 1,800 people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean this year alone, according to the United Nations.

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