The long wait for migrants stranded in Serbia to sneak across Hungary’s fortified border and fearsome police patrols, is beginning to take its toll on the people’s morale and psyche, an aid volunteer in Belgrade told Reuters on Thursday (March 16).The wait has stretched from autumn, over a bitterly cold winter and into early spring.
On the anniversary of the controversial EU-Turkey deal, forged to keep migrants and refugees out of Europe, the outlook seems to be getting bleaker for nearly 8,000 people stuck in Serbia, with around a quarter of those being counted outside official camps.
Balkan countries sealed their borders to migrants before the agreement, with Hungary reputedly applying the harshest measures to keep trespassers out. Last week Doctors Without Borders accused Hungarian authorities of beating migrants before pushing them back to Serbia and even letting patrol dogs attack them.
At the largest informal camp, in Belgrade’s abandoned railroad warehouse complex, incidents of severe depression and aggression are becoming more frequent among some 2,000 residents, mostly young Pakistanis and Afghans. This even though conditions have improved since the winter freeze, Portuguese volunteer Nuno Miguel told Reuters.
Migrants also camp outside official centers, camping in the forest along the fenced-off border and wait for a chance to sneak past the razor wire, Hungarian police, and their dogs.
One of the veterans at the forest, Shadeed from Pakistan, tried to cross five times in the three months he has lived rough, in the wild between Horgos and Subotica.
Like many others, he said that he survived abuse at hands of Hungarian police, but refuses to try for a place in Serbian official camps, fearing an expulsion, and vows to keep on trying to reach a better life in Europe in spite of intimidating odds.