Refugees on protest march to Serbia-Hungary border

By bne IntelliNews October 5, 2016

Around 50 refugees and migrants are marching the 200km from Belgrade to Serbia’s border with Hungary, in protest against Budapest’s restrictive policy against migrants. 

Hungary’s policy on migrants has tightened twice, first in September 2015 when a wire fence was built along the border with Serbia, and recently on October 2 when Hungary's referendum on the EU’s migrant quota system was held.  

Most of the 300 migrants and refugees who started the march towards the Hungarian-Serbian border gave up on October 4 and headed back toward Belgrade. According to Serbian media, the group split up at Stara Pazova, around 30km from Belgrade. The smaller group which has kept walking is expected to cover the remaining 50km to Novi Sad on the afternoon of October 5.

The group is being followed by police as well as by representatives of the Serbian Commissariat for Refugees.

Within the last year and a half over 700,000 refugees and migrants from Middle East and North Africa conflict zones have traveled via Serbia. Almost none of them want to stay in Serbia as their preferred destinations are Germany and the UK. However, with the Hungarian border closed, many fear they will be stranded in Serbia. 

Approximately 5,000 refugees and migrants are in Serbia currently. Some of them are resting while others are unable to find a way to enter the EU.

Prior to starting their march toward Hungary, a group of migrants held a protest near the main bus station in downtown Belgrade. It ended with a squabble between two groups of refugees and the police intervened. 

The conflict was the result of one group’s refusing to join the protest and refuse the food offered as help by Belgrade citizens organisation Infopark which prepares meals for refugees and migrants traveling through or stuck in the town.

Regional broadcaster N1 reported on October 4 that most of the migrants on the march toward Hungary are from Afghanistan, and thus their chances of entering Hungary are zero. People leaving Afghanistan have been declared as economic migrants not refugees.

Meanwhile, Croatian media report that representatives of the Serbian Commissariat for Refugees are trying to convince migrants to change direction and head toward Croatian border. According to an N1 reporter who accompanied the migrants to Nova Pazova, people from the Commissariat are trying to convince migrants to go to refugee shelters in Sid, a town close to Croatian border.

Croatia’s caretaker Interior Minister Vlaho Orepic said that Croatian police will definitely not allow around 7,000 immigrants who are currently in Serbia to pass Croatian border, Total Croatia News reported on October 5.

N1 quoted commissar Vladimir Cucic saying that his organisation is trying to convince migrants to stop marching during the night and instead to go to the refugee centre in Principovac where they can find food and accommodation.

Infopark announced on its Facebook page recently that on the morning of September 29 it had a record high number of people being served breakfast by Caritas at Info Park - 820 people.

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