Europe, Serbia, Human Rights, Politics

Are Refugees Welcome in Serbia?

Refugees and migrants should not be equated with terrorists, especially after the attacks in Paris two weeks ago, and creating obstacles at the borders will certainly not resolve the current crisis.

The refugee crisis has many dimensions — security, economy, and most important, humanly. One of our civilization’s rule, prescribed by international and national laws, is that people have a legal refuge from the death and destruction of war. No one has a human, legal nor a formal right to expel refugees and return them to war.

Although among the millions of refugees who are coming to Europe, some may be terrorists, refugees doesn’t mean terrorists, or vice versa, and we must be willing to separate those two very different things by the establishment of rapid channels of accurate information.

The Serbian Way

The consequences of delays on the Macedonia border could soon be reflected in our country when the thousands of temporary migrant camps start collapsing at the Presevo Crossing (Serbia-Macedonia border). The Prime Minister of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, said at a joint press conference with the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, that Serbia will know how to protect their interests, and added that if Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary do not accept economic migrants, Serbia will not do it either.

Vucic said that Serbia knows its obligations on the way to solve the migrant crisis, and pointed out that we are to do our jobs in the best way possible. Serbia did not raise any fences or wires, nor will they in the future. The Prime Minister met with representatives of Macedonia and tried to find solutions. It is obvious that some were not doing their job properly, said Prime Minister, adding that Serbia is ready to help its neighbors.

Tusk said that the main reason for his visit to Belgrade was the dramatic refugee crisis, and stressed that Serbia has a consistent friend in Brussels, and that it can rely on the continued support of the EU in dealing with the refugee crisis.

More refugee families, mainly with women and children returned to Athens, but there are other waves incoming. The Minister for Labour, Employment, and Social Issues Aleksandar Vulin said today that he is very concerned about the situation on the Greek-Macedonian border because of the pressure from economic migrants, who are evidently growing, stating that their number in Serbia is still very small.

Some EU countries have said that they would no longer accept economic migrants, except those from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, fleeing from war zones. Serbia could face a challenge if the migrants change their routes, and traffickers who find them still lead them to Serbian borders.

The European Union’s Role

The Director of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE) Michael Georg Link, said that it is of utmost importance for refugees to behave like human beings and thanked Serbia because, as he said, acted exactly as it should. Serbia has already expressed the hope that it can continue to do so in the future, especially as a significant role of civil society organizations that provided assistance to refugees.

Permanent coordinator of the United Nations and UNDP Resident Representative in Serbia, Irena Vojačka-Solorano, assessed that Serbia was one of the few countries that has done the right thing by trying to vet those who cross the border.

Every person has the right to an identity, but there are other countries neglecting it. Serbia is not only registering people in accordance with available capacities, but actually raised their capacity. The state is now able to detect and identify everyone crossing the border.

Serbia is at the highest level of showed support and takes every necessary steps to bring order and provide assistance to people regardless of whether they are in transit, or wish to stay. From the very first day, ordinary citizens took it upon themselves to provide refugees and migrants with shelter, food, water, and even taking care of children.

Slovenia, followed by Macedonia, then Serbia and Croatia have all decided not to fail the refugees by providing solutions and opportunities for those from war-affected areas.

It is possible to rely on the continued financial support from the EU, and representatives of country will invite EU leaders to support the Western Balkans, which is directly on the front lines. If we want to preserve the Schengen area (a region including 26 countries that have abolished passport and any other type of border control at their common borders), we must support the Western Balkans, the EU is already doing enough to support Serbia. Brussels freed funds for emergency situations for the establishment of 6,000 places to accommodate refugees but, the Union will push their support even further, so that starting from January 1st, it will provide even more help.

Today, many of the refugees are on the streets of Serbian cities, waiting for transportation, and approval at the Croatian border, in order to continue their path towards the EU, and the citizens themselves are trying to help them, therefore, helping as many refugees as possible to feel comfortable while waiting in Serbia.

About Davor I. Tumbas

Davor is a young and passionate freelance writer from Serbia as well as a sports enthusiast, precisely MMA. He started writing in high school, and one of his articles was even published in scholarly journals, for which he received the first prize. As a student of gastronomy, delicious meals are on his menu everyday, and look up the case of Gordon Ramsey. Davor would love to start a career in journalism, and he plans to save enough money to open his own restaurant.

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