Serbia’s border with EU-member Hungary has become a major crossing point for tens of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa who are using the so-called Balkan route to enter the EU, while fleeing poverty or war in their home countries. There is now a sense of urgency to elude border police and make a successful frontier crossing, before the Hungarians finished the 175-kilometer (100 mile) razor-wire fence by the end of the month. Some 1,000 migrants per day tried to cross into Hungary from Serbia before Hungary announced plans for the fence a few months ago. That number has risen to 1,500.
“This is what we wanted and there is no way back now,” whispered Adnan. “We are not afraid. What could be worse than the bloodshed we left behind in Syria?” The group has about 50 people included a 2-month-old baby and a boy whose parents drowned when their boat capsized in the Mediterranean.
“Syria is no longer a country, it’s a bloody mess,” said Rawad Qaq, a dentist from Aleppo who was part of another group. “Where is Western solidarity now, how can they watch this tragedy unfold in front of their own eyes and do nothing for us? Just let us go and show you are human.”
As European countries are raising barriers, not tearing them down and with Hungary building the fence, Serbians fear that their country — itself still affected by the wars in the Balkans in the 1990s — will now become a bottleneck for the refugees. Government figures estimate that some 30,000 migrants, mostly Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans, are currently stuck in the non EU-member state. Serbian authorities now seem to be turning a blind eye to the crossings into Hungary, with Serb policemen even showing migrants which border routes are safer to take.
Syrians vow to keep on trying — despite arrests and deportations — until they get into the EU.