Trapped migrants battle Serbia's freezing winter

With temperatures set to fall below freezing and snow on the way, some migrants who have fallen through the safety net are surviving on a single meal a day.

Trapped migrants battle Serbia's freezing winter

World Bulletin / News Desk

While residents of Serbia's capital enjoyed Friday’s Orthodox New Year celebrations in warm homes with family and friends, more than a thousand migrants struggled outside with bitterly cold winter conditions.

Many desperate people from faraway countries are sheltering in Belgrade’s parks and abandoned buildings, struggling to survive freezing cold and wet conditions.

After the closure of the so-called Balkan route to European Union member states, thousands of migrants -- mostly young men from Afghanistan and Pakistan -- became trapped in Serbia, waiting for the border to reopen.

According to Frontex data, over 740,000 illegal border crossings took place on the Western Balkans route in 2015 alone.

During this period many migrants tried various ways to cross both the Croatian and Hungarian borders -- thereby entering the EU and gaining asylum -- but many have failed, finding themselves stuck in non-EU Serbia, a small country of just over seven million people.

There are currently around 5,600 migrants in special centers across the country, according to Serbia’s Commissariat for Refugees and Migration.

However, there are estimated to be still over a thousand migrants on the streets of Belgrade, refusing to seek asylum in Serbia -- something which would end their dream of entering the EU.

Anadolu Agency spoke to 28-year-old Pakistani national Alamsar who said he had been in Serbia for six months.

Staying in the parking lot of the University of Belgrade, trying to shelter from the rain and snow, he described the desperate condition he found himself in.

"This is very cold, even freezing; we have a different problem every day," Alamsar said, adding that he and his friends had covered the open side of the parking lot with an old blanket to block the biting wind.

 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 14 Ocak 2017, 10:49
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