Migrants in Serbia dream of EU

Number of asylum seekers in Serbia quadrupled in past two years

Migrants in Serbia dream of EU

World Bulletin / News Desk 

Abbas Mohammadi, 32, has finally made it to Serbia after a three-month trek from Afghanistan.

With his six children and 17 of his relatives, he has traveled from country to country to reach the Serbian capital of Belgrade.

"Because of the ongoing war in Afghanistan I do not have a job and money. My children cannot go to school. That's why we left our country," said Muhammedi.

But the journey is not over as their final destination is Germany.

Serbia has recently seen a surge in the number of migrants on its soil.

According to the Serbian Ministry of the Interior, the number of asylum-seekers in Serbia quadrupled since 2013.

It has risen from 5,066 in 2013 to more than 20,000 in the first five months of 2015, senior protection officer at the UN's refugee agency UNHCR, Anne-Birgitte Krum, has indicated recently.

Serbia received a total of 77 asylum requests in 2008, added Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic in a press conference last week.

He noted that those asylum seekers are mostly from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Pakistan.

"Of course most of these people do not want to essentially keep the Republic of Serbia and only a small number of them through the asylum system remains here, but for each of these people the Republic of Serbia is obliged to provide some funding," said Stefanovic.

A similar surge in neighboring Hungary has led Budapest to reconsider applying rules forcing people to apply for asylum in the first European Union country they arrive in.

There are also plans to build a fence along the border with Serbia, which is not part of the EU.

Meanwhile, in the capital of Serbia, Belgrade, numerous migrants, who for the most part arrived by foot, gather together between the train and bus station.

Among them are Abbas Mohammadi from Afghanistan and Abed Gharibi from Isfahan from Iran, who also wishes to reach the EU. He dreams of becoming a football player.

"I was a football player in Iran but because of the bad economic situation I had to leave my country," he explains.

- Asylum Centre

According to the migrants, police often order them to leave threatening to place them in asylum centers or deport them.

Serbia has six asylum centers and refugees usually stay in one of the centers no more than two weeks, according to the director of the Banja Koviljaca asylum center, Robert Lesmajster, who says that the majority of migrants know very well their final destination. And it is never a Balkan state.

"People come to the asylum centers to extend the time due to lack of money for the illegal border crossing to Hungary. This is what happens if they need accommodation or if they get sick," he said.

Abdullah Ahmed Nor, 25, from Somalia told Anadolu Agency that, although the conditions are good in this particular asylum center, he wants to continue his journey to Germany or Sweden to be a journalist.

"Over a year ago, I decided to leave my country, mainly because due to the conflict," he says. "My life was in danger because of some people in connection with Al-Qaeda."

Nor says he walked all the way from Macedonia to Serbia, which is the reason why his ankles were horribly swollen and bruised.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 05 Temmuz 2015, 11:31
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