More and more people are trying to cross illegally from Kosovo into the European Union. Some 10,000 Kosovars filed for asylum in Hungary in just one month this year, compared to 6,000 for the whole of 2013.

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Kosovars, who were trying to cross the border to Hungary are detained by Serbian border police near the town of SuboticaMarko Djurica/Reuters
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Kosovar migrants walk on a road after illegally crossing the Hungarian-Serbian border near the village of AsotthalomLaszlo Balogh/Reuters

Hungary's State Office of Immigration and Nationality said that of 14,000 foreigners who had sought asylum since the turn of the year, 10,000 were from Kosovo, a small, ethnic Albanian-majority state that declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

The exodus follows an EU-encouraged easing of travel rules in Serbia, which since 2012 has allowed people to enter with Kosovo-issued documents. Belgrade had previously rejected them, as it does not recognise its former southern province as an independent nation.

It has also coincided with political turbulence and unrest in Kosovo, which held an inconclusive election in June 2014 and only formed a new government six months later.

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Serbian border police stop Kosovars in a field near the town of Subotica, on the Serbian-Hungarian borderMarko Djurica/Reuters
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Serbian border police detain a group of Kosovars who were trying to cross the borderMarko Djurica/Reuters
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A Serbian border policeman collects documents from a group of Kosovars, after they were detained while trying to cross the border to Hungary, near SuboticaMarko Djurica/Reuters
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Children sit in a Serbian border police vehicle after being detained near SuboticaMarko Djurica/Reuters
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Kosovars wait in a police station after they were detained while trying to cross the border to Hungary, in the town of SuboticaMarko Djurica/Reuters

Over the past few days, crowds of people have been seen boarding night buses from Pristina bound for Serbia's capital Belgrade, more than halfway to Hungary.

Among them, 18-year-old student Vilson Beqiri said he would take a second bus from Belgrade to the northern Serbian town of Subotica and then cross the border into Hungary illegally.

"We'll meet some other people there, pay them, and they'll lead us to Hungary," he said. "God willing I'll be in Germany by tomorrow evening."

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People wave goodbye as Kosovars, many of them hoping to reach the European Union and seek asylum, head from Pristina to SerbiaHazir Reka/Reuters
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Kosovars board buses headed for Serbia, from the capital PristinaHazir Reka/Reuters
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Almost all asylum applications in Hungary are rejected as migrants cannot show they are fleeing war or persecution, but applying staves off immediate deportation while their cases are being processed. In the meantime, many will give overstretched immigration authorities the slip and push on westwards through the EU's borderless Schengen zone.

Hungary's immigration agency said 40-50% of asylum applicants would normally leave the country within 24 hours, and a further 30-40% within 3-10 days.

Around 700,000-800,000 Kosovars already live and work in western Europe, mainly Switzerland and Germany - a diaspora that originated with an exodus from repression and war with Serbia in the late 1990s and then stubborn poverty in the 15 years since.

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Hungarian police guard Kosovar migrants after they illegally crossed the border near the village of AsotthalomLaszlo Balogh/Reuters
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Laszlo Balogh/Reuters
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Laszlo Balogh/Reuters
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Kosovars help each other to cross illegally into Hungary near the village of AsotthalomLaszlo Balogh/Reuters
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A man carries his baby as he crosses the Hungarian-Serbian border near the village of AsotthalomLaszlo Balogh/Reuters
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A Kosovar woman holds her child as they warm up around an open fire after they crossing a stream into HungaryLaszlo Balogh/Reuters
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Kosovar children wait for their parents after they crossed the border into HungaryLaszlo Balogh/Reuters

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 and is recognised by more than 100 countries. But Serbia's refusal of recognition - backed by UN veto-holder Russia - has impeded Kosovo's international integration and therefore its economic development.