‘Dire’ Conditions in Serbia for Refugees Squatting in Derelict Buildings
Serbian authorities have been accused of failing to provide adequate food, water and sanitation for the 1,200 refugees and migrants sleeping rough on its soil.
Meanwhile it’s emerged refugees and migrants who have crossed Serbia’s border into Croatia or Hungary are being forced back.
According to charity, Save the Children, there have been 1,600 cases of illegal push-backs with refugees and migrants, who have been forced, often violently, back into Serbia.
The charity claims there has been an average of 30 cases a day of “clandestine” push-backs, which it says “highlights a disregard for the human right to an individual assessment of the need for international protection.”
It’s thought around 100 people are arriving every day, risking their lives as they cross mountains and forests in sub-zero temperatures along the Balkans where police brutality is a regular occurrence.
A 12-year-old boy from Afghanistan told Save the Children:
“During the trip I had many problem especially in the woods. The Bulgarian police beat us, took our money, asked us why we came to Europe. We also had problems with the Mafia.”
Despite the EU-Turkey deal, the refugee crisis according to Save the Children, “has not abated.”
“It’s simply a more dangerous route, especially for children. The EU-Turkey deal has given smugglers a firmer grip on a hugely profitable business, incorporating increasingly dangerous tactics to circumvent authorities,” Jelena Besedic, Save the Children’s advocacy manager in Serbia said.
“We are seeing injuries such as dog bites and people wounded by brutal treatment as they are pushed back,” she added.
Despite the European Union’s pledge to crack down on people smugglers by closing off routes into Europe, child refugees are disappearing from aid agencies’ sights and into the hands of people smugglers, who continue to profit in Serbia.