Ungarische Polizisten haben mir die Hände gebrochen und meine Freunde und mich verprügelt“, erzählt der 19- jährige Ahmad in gebrochenem Englisch. Und dann zeigt er seine Handgelenke. Die Knochen sehen deformiert aus. Ahmed ist in Pakistan geboren. Aus der Region Punjab hat er es bis an die ungarisch–serbische Grenze geschafft. Damit er überhaupt nach Europa gebracht wird, musste er einem Schlepper 10.000 Euro zahlen. Doch jetzt ist vorerst Endstation. An der ungarischen Grenze ist er stecken geblieben. Seit etwa fünf Monaten wohnt er in einem Zelt am Stadtrand der serbischen Stadt Subotica, der ersten größeren Stadt hinter der ungarischen Grenze. „Ich bin schon zehnmal über den Zaun, hatte es nach Ungarn geschafft“, berichtet er. Dann haben die Polizisten mich und andere Flüchtlinge erwischt und zurückgeschickt. Und jedes Mal haben sie uns geschlagen“, berichtet der hochgewachsene, schlanke Mann. „Frauen und Kinder auch“. „Ich will in Europa ein gutes Leben haben“, beschreibt Ahmed den Grund seiner Flucht aus Pakistan. „Arbeiten. Egal wo. Österreich, Deutschland oder Italien“, sagt er. Nach Pakistan will er nicht mehr zurück. „Ich habe dort keine Zukunft“.
In the first part of our series ‘Europe’s Outsourced Refugees,’ we report from Belgrade on how illegal pushbacks of asylum seekers along the Balkan route are leaving refugees invisible and unprotected.
In the night between February 2 and 3, Afghani national Rahmat Ullah Hanife (22) drowned in the Tisa River on the Serbian-Hungarian border. This was announced on Monday by Info Park – a refugee support network jointly launched by Fund B92 and Trag Foundation in Serbia. According to Info Park, Rahmat Ullah tried to cross the frozen river with the group of 15 refugees and migrants who were organized by a smuggler from Pakistan, charging 2,000 EUR each for this extremely risky attempt to reach the European Union. The group also included six minors, aged 10-17. The smuggler divided them into groups and lead them to the river where he encouraged them to walk across ice towards village Horgos in Hungary. Rahmat Ullah was second in line when the ice broke under their feet.
The migrants who reside in reception center in Obrenovac, a municipality in the City of Belgrade, would be allowed to go out from it only with the appropriate permits, minister Aleksandar Vulin announced today. According to Radio-television of Serbia (RTS), Vulin refereed to “Incident, when the group of migrants attacked a woman in Obrenovac”, saying that tougher checks have been introduced; he said “adequate restrictions on migrants movement were applied to improve the security of both migrants and local population”. The number of deployed policemen has been increased while “the situation” in the reception center is “calm”, according to RTS. “The migrants would be allowed to leave the center and come back at a defined time only with adequate permits”, Vulin said. “Of course, they should get legitimation that could be accepted also by other institutions”, he went on. Vulin acknowledged that, since this morning, a special bus started to work. Namely, it will directly transfer migrants from Obrenovac reception center to Belgrade reception center “without meddling with the local population”, the minister said.
Die Flüchtlinge in den Baracken sind gut sichtbar von einem der Bahnsteige des Belgrader Bahnhofs. Trotzdem waren sie bis vor wenigen Wochen ein blinder Fleck für die serbische Bevölkerung. „Niemand wusste von diesem Ort“, erzählt Goran. „Ich kam nach Hause nach Novi Sad und erzählte von meiner Arbeit und den 2.000 Menschen, die hier leben. Aber niemand zuhause wusste davon, es war nicht in den Nachrichten“, erklärte er. Die Medien seien von der Regierung gesteuert, die wenig Aufmerksamkeit auf das Thema lenken wollte, ist er überzeugt. Doch seit wenigen Wochen tummeln sich internationale Fernsehteams um die Flüchtlinge.
Lange war Serbien für Flüchtende nur ein Durchgangsland. Doch die Zahl der Gestrandeten steigt, die Sorge vor einem Slum der Heimatlosen mitten in Europa wächst.
Currently, there are some 7,300 refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants in the country. Of them, over 6,200 (85%) are accommodated in 17 government centres and the rest are still sleeping rough in the Belgrade city centre. Some 49% are from Afghanistan, 19% from Iraq, 10% each from Syria and Pakistan, 5% from Iran and 7% from other countries. 46% are children, 39% adult men and 15% adult women.
The authorities, supported by UNHCR and partners, arranged additional temporary emergency shelter by refurbishing a facility in Obrenovac near Belgrade, for voluntary relocation of refugees and migrants from Belgrade city centre. In support of the authorities’ efforts to put the facility into use as quickly as possible, UNHCR contributed all new clothing, blankets, bed sets and hygiene kits, cleaning services, and other items. To date, some 300 men and boys were moved from the city centre to Obrenovac. The authorities, UNHCR and partners continue working towards further expansion of shelter capacities there and to ensure that all necessary protection and other services, particularly to support the unaccompanied minors, will be provided to all current and future residents of the new centre.
In the North, the authorities offered asylum seekers near the border with Hungary to move to the Transit Centre in Subotica. As a result only around 20 asylum seekers remained outside the “transit zone” in Horgos and “transit zone” of Kelebija, waiting admission to Hungary.
According to the Ministry of Interior, 12,821 persons registered their intent to seek asylum in Serbia in 2016 while 574 submitted an official asylum application. In 2016, the authorities granted refugee status to 19 and subsidiary protection to 23 persons. 40 asylum applications were rejected.
Humanitarian organisations have accused Serbia of forcing hundreds of refugees back towards Macedonia and Bulgaria, refusing them help in freezing temperatures and breaking international law. Nikola Kovacevic, of the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, said his group had multiple complaints of so-called “pushback” campaigns against refugees, many of whom are from Syria and Iraq, to get them out of Serbia. Complainants say they have been bussed to the border, had their papers confiscated and left in sub-zero temperatures, forcing them to cross into neighbouring countries to find help. One Syrian family stated that their official asylum seeker papers were torn up in their faces as they were ushered towards the border. Police and the army have been accused of complicity, but Kovacevic said it was difficult to know exactly who was involved in specific incidents as border forces are a combination of army and police.”Our colleagues on the field received about 20 complaints from refugees about illegal mass deportations. The assessment is that a total of 700-1,000 refugees were illegally deported to Macedonia and Bulgaria since September,” he told Middle East Eye.
A freezing and squalid Belgrade railway depot where up to 2,000 people are seeking shelter from the bitter Serbian winter risks becoming a “new Calais” for refugees and migrants abandoned by European authorities, the humanitarian group Médecins Sans Frontières has warned.Children as young as eight are struggling to survive temperatures that have plunged to -16C this week, with no running water or sanitation.