Homeless refugees in Serbia march to Hungary

300 refugees in Serbia, most of them young Afghans, stage arduous 200-km protest march to Hungarian border

Homeless refugees in Serbia march to Hungary

World Bulletin / News Desk

 While world leaders continue to negotiate and hold meeting after meeting on how to handle the international migrant crisis, more and more migrants are arriving at the “last resort” Serbia's capital Belgrade, before trying to enter an EU member state.

Hungary, lying along Serbia’s northern border, last Sunday held a referendum on the migrant quotas decided by the EU. Only half of eligible voters cast ballots, failing to reach the required minimum to make the vote binding, but an overwhelming majority, 98 percent, supported the government's call to reject the EU's migrant plan.

There are currently about 7,000 registered migrants in Serbia, waiting hopefully for Hungary to open its borders, according to police sources, speaking on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.

Earlier this week, a group of several hundred migrants held a protest at the bus station in Belgrade, urging Hungary to open the border for their transition to Western European countries.

Nearly 300 migrants, mostly young men from Afghanistan, set off on foot to the Hungarian border Tuesday as part of the protest.

Anadolu Agency reporters joined the young migrants’ march to the border. 

Rough trek

Although most were young men, the 200-kilometer (124-mile) trek from Belgrade to Horgos, a town on Serbia’s border with Hungary, was no easy task.

"We don’t want to stay in Hungary, we just want to go in and go on. I want to go to another country, for example Germany, Belgium, Italy, or any other country in Europe, but the Hungarian border is closed," said 17-year-old Armanius from Afghanistan.

The march went on all day with police escort and several breaks before around two-thirds of the migrants decided to turn back to Belgrade due to medical issues, cold weather, and rain.

The 100 remaining kept walking until late Tuesday night, before taking shelter at a gas station in the city of Indija, about 40 kilometers from Belgrade.

Their main concern was to keep out of the rain and avoid exposure to the strong, cold wind.

"The night was very cold. It was raining, but we stayed under the eaves and slept here. We slept outside, but we didn’t have blankets or anything else to keep ourselves warm," Volih, a 16-year-old from Afghanistan, told Anadolu Agency.

Nowhere to sleep

Eighteen-year-old Birat, also from Afghanistan, said, "More migrants are sick, have health problems. Most had injuries, about 200 people went back because they couldn’t continue the journey in the cold and rain. These migrants are here to go farther because there’s no place for us. There’s no place for us to sleep."

On Wednesday morning, the migrants were determined to keep walking all the way to the Hungarian border, but after speaking with officials from Serbia’s Commissariat for Refugees, they accepted an offer to be housed in a reception center near Belgrade.

"This is a manipulation," said Commissioner for Refugees and Migration Vladimir Cucovic, saying that some migrants had been convinced marching to the border “would allow them to enter Hungary. This is neither the first nor the last group.”

Meanwhile, there are about 100 people at a makeshift migrant camp at Horgos who have already been waiting for about five or 10 days for Hungary to open the border.

Hungary was the first EU country to build a border fence to control the flow of migrants, in early August, before sealing its frontier with Serbia. 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 08 Ekim 2016, 11:03