One of the biggest social and political problems in the past year has been the migrant crisis. Thousands of people are fleeing war torn countries and moving to European countries in search for peace and better life.
Serbia is one of the passing countries for migrants coming from war torn countries. As of today, almost 900,000 migrants have passed through Serbia on their way to Germany, France, Sweden and other European countries.
Most migrant groups have no intention of staying in Serbia, and they are mostly located near Croatian and Hungarian border, waiting for approval to cross the state border.
Since June 13th 2016, the Hungarian government made the decision to keep all migrants, within 5 miles of the state border.
Laws and procedures, for crossing the state border, have also been stricter so that migrants, who have committed crimes and haven’t applied for state asylum, won’t be able to cross the border.
These regulations present a problem for Serbian government, since the country doesn’t have the resources to take care of all the migrants, and they are forced to stay there. In October, migrants located near the Hungarian border, in Serbia, have protested and requested a change of these rules.
Serbian government policy regarding migrants
Serbian Secretary of internal, Nebojša Stefanović, claims that Serbia is a humane country with great will to help migrants who have settled inside the borders. He also states that many migrant groups have been offered shelters and accommodations across the country, so that they don’t need to stay on the streets.
One of the problems, regarding accommodation, has been the migrant camps in larger cities in Serbia. Stefanović claims that, no European country will allow migrants to settle on the city streets and Serbia will be no excuse.
What Serbia wants in return is respect for the state law and rules, and that their good will doesn’t get exploited.
In October 2016, Serbian prime-minister, Aleksandar Vučić, has attended the Summit in Wiena regarding migrant crisis. Representatives from Germany, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Croatia and Hungary have discussed the problems their countries are facing when it comes to migration.
Vučić has stated that Serbia received the lowest amount of resources, aimed to support the migrant crisis but nevertheless, Serbia will not close its borders for migrants who are fleeing their war torn homeland.
The solution for the Balkan route problems and migrant crisis in general, hasn’t been reached yet and countries are still waiting for the general plan to solve this worldwide problem.
Migrant living conditions in Serbia
A large number of migrants, in Serbia, live in poor conditions. The Serbian government states that many of them refuse to move from the largest cities, to smaller ones, and most shelters in bigger cities are already occupied.
In permanent shelters run by the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration, they have more than 300 people and their total capacity is around 2000 people. There are 14 temporary accommodation centers across Serbia, and there are only around 1500 people sheltered in them.
Those living in shelters say that they are satisfied with their living conditions and that Red Cross volunteers provide them with food and other necessities regularly.
The biggest problems are the migrants living on the streets and in tent-camps in the cities and near the Hungarian and Croatian border. Their living conditions are terrible and basic necessities, like food and water, are not provided for them.
In the beginning of November, there was a lice infestation in migrant camps in Šid, Belgrade, Subotica and Preševo, and urgent medical examination of the people have been conducted. Lice are known as carriers of more serious diseases like spotted fever that can represent a threat for other Serbian residents.
Luckily, no cases have been recorder yet, and the Ministry of Health has taken all necessary precautions.
Most of them are trying to leave Serbia, and their only goal is to cross the state border and go to one of the European countries with higher life standards. Since Croatia and Hungary have changed their migrant policies, most of them are forced to wait by the border.
With winter on its way, living conditions can only get worse and Serbia will have more problems regarding the migrant crisis and incidents inside the country have already started.
Brutal conflict between two migrant groups in Serbia ends in murder
Last Monday, two migrant groups in Belgrade center have conflicted and one of the migrants has been murdered. Witnesses claim that two groups have started to fight and yell at each other, and that one of them started running away. 15 others have chased him and killed him brutally with knives and sticks.
Belgrade residents were horrified by the act that looked like a murder typical for the Middle Age. Five migrants have been arrested and taken by the police. The victim was Safi Gorit (26).
This incident has only shown that stricter rules must be applied when it comes to regulations of the state border crossing and that with winter just around the corner, Serbia will have to find a solution for the current condition.