Balkan route – Europe's neglected tragedy I

Report part I: of the Balkan route – Serbian Hungarian border

A small team traveled last month by Serbia. Our goal: Exploring the Balkan route. Europe's States while announce they would conclude this way for refugees with their border closures. Messages but indicate the opposite – the Balkan route is open and Europe before closing his eyes. What is the situation on the spot off and vorallendingen, how it is fleeing people there? A report on a neglected tragedy in the middle of Europe.

Before a barbed wire, children play with iron bars and a broken stroller. From the dust swirling up they are all grey and her clothes dirty. A babble of voices of hundreds of people around me gets to my ear, the nearby motorway is booming in the background. We are in an unofficial Refugeecamp in the Romanian-Hungarian border. It is located just about 100 meters in addition to the official border crossing Horgos, surrounded by meadows and forest, right on the Hungarian border. Only on a narrow dirt road, here goes. Officially, there should not be the camp where up to 500 people live. Just like a second camp, 30 kilometres further West. Near the Serbian village Kelebija themselves have built huts built 300 people themselves in the transit zone between the Hungarian and the Serbian border post about. In two camps the refugees waiting for their onward journey to Central Europe. The Hungarian Government allows only 15 to 30 people a day legally over the border. After they have been registered, they can continue. Unless they are male and traveling alone. Then they come to the crossing for 28 days in jail. Without offense, without charge or trial. The Serbian and Hungarian authorities prohibit it without the two camps to enter registration journalist * internal and independent volunteers. You want to control who supports the people and who informs about the abuses.

Border crossing at Kebelika
Border crossing at Horgos

Conditions continue to dramatically

In both camps, there are no sanitary facilities – two simple water connections apart. For weeks in makeshift, people need to wash by hand. Because there are too few DIXI WCs, serve as additional toilets a nearby pit and a shady spot under a tree. The Hungarian military and the UNHCR share of food. Every day of water, bread and tuna. The authorities ban bigger and better fortified tents. Donated camping tents are in short supply. That's why rooms people from ceiling, sticks and leaves temporary dwellings. In one of these houses, I meet Samila. The 12 year old Afghani speaks impeccable English for her age. Better than many people in Germany, I think to myself. She tells that she'd be way for two weeks at the camp, and for several weeks by Greece. A school had not seen her for months. She acts very calmly while she reported me, how hard it would be boring in the camp for them.

It's a strange mood in the camp at Horgos. The living conditions are dramatic and the refugees are dependent on the arbitrariness of the authorities almost completely. The Hungarian border fence reminiscent of permanently as a somber Memorial the hatred and rejection, bringing to Europe the fleeing people. At the same time who had fled to play volleyball and football front. They laugh, organize meetings to breaking the fast and are very open to us and friendly. Of a family, we even are invited to spend the night with you. As in the past, volunteers were arrested because they stayed in the camps, we refrain from – and get so upset.

Two water connections for hundreds of people
The 12 year old Samila

At the bus station of Subotica

The nearest larger city on the Serbian side is Subotica. At the local bus station gather some refugees. A few people actually stay in the official camp in Subotica, but want to spend the day. Among them are the families of Abdallah and Chatti. Yussuf Abdallah told at the camp's unpleasant smell to be stuffy and cramped. Currently, hotel's approximately 700 people, but should be designed for only about 400. Therefore, be it during the day in the Centre of Subotica and would go not only in the camp overnight. As for many children, our camera for the boys of the family Chatti was a big change.

The boy on the bus station
Mohamed (2.v.l.) with friends: cosmetics traders, construction workers and engineering

Illegal to Hungary

At the bus station, I meet people who have crossed the border to Hungary several times on illegal way and have been put back again. As well as Mohamed. He sees no chance of an official way to cross the border for themselves and would also not without reason are locked up. Therefore, he tried it on unofficially way. After he has gone across the border three times, he will now wait until Hungary officially opens the border. I ask him how long it probably is. "Who knows…", he rhetorically asks back. He comes from Afghanistan, and there was a small shop with CDs and electrical hardware. The terror of the Taliban drove him out of the country. He and his friends tell you would have shot in the Iran bordering on it. In Turkey and Serbia, it was good to them. But "Bulgaria and hungary are very bad".

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Hungary the refugees on its own territory to accesses and returns to Serbia and Bulgaria without checking their procedures, is strictly speaking illegal. It contradicts international agreements to deal with refugees (non-refoulment bid). The Orban Government has adopted this week but a law, after illegally accompanying persons can be deported right back until eight kilometers across the border. People enter illegally Hungarian territory, be caught, brought back and try it again. This procedure can be repeated theoretically endless. The Hungarian police abused the refugees with beatings and electric shocks. According to various statements also women and children. By chance, I meet a chatty police officers at the border fence on one of the last days. He tells us how easily the fence was to get around. Escape-helping would bother the police radio traffic with drones and explore the surrounding area with night-vision goggles. You would know when the police patrol and back with metal cutters. "It takes maybe thirty seconds, then people are through." To take the escape help ends is almost impossible. "They disappear very quickly on the Serbian side – we are powerless." He believed the Serbian police would be involved in the activities and cash bribes.

Border fence between Hungary and Serbia

The border region Hungary Serbia

There are far fewer people on the Hungarian Serbian border, as in the last year. Hundreds of people are still on the way through South-Eastern Europe in search for a better life. At the same time, the interest of the people and their living conditions in Europe has disappeared completely. Thus, the willingness to support remains low, as the control of the authorities through a critical public. Nothing more left us, than to try with the information to make such a public and to prepare future tours to the region – also if the support of the people there is made more difficult by the authorities.

With these impressions, we traveled on to Belgrade. Through the capital city of Serbia, thousands on their way came last year to Central Europe. What is the situation in Belgrade now? There are still refugees or the city no longer lies on the escape route? More in part II at the end of the week.

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