Afghan refugees in Serbia | Photo: Naser Ahmadi/Infomigrants
Afghan refugees in Serbia | Photo: Naser Ahmadi/Infomigrants

According to UNHCR statistics, more than 40% of almost 3,000 migrants and refugees in Serbia come from Afghanistan. Most of them hope to enter Hungary or Croatia to get into the EU, However, with Hungary's border closed down and the Croatian border being closely monitored, leaving Serbia is proving to be a difficult task.

Most of the 3,200 Afghan migrants in Serbia are underage minors, who are living in camps and tent sites in Serbia, most of them near the Croatian border. The "Krnjaca" asylum center, which can be seen here, is close to the capital city of Belgrade and is one of many refugee and migrant camps in Serbia which, according to official statistics, hosts about 250 migrants.

There have, however, been reports saying that this camp has witnessed a disproportionate amount of violence among the residents "because the majority of residents are single people," says Sharifa Yousofi, an Afghan migrant housed at the camp.

"We have a lot of problems here. There is violence in this camp This is not a safe place for people who have children."

Abdullah Yousofi is an Afghan refugee in Serbia  Photo Naser AhmadiInfomigrants

Sharifa Yousofi has been living at the "Krnjaca" asylum center for three months along with her husband and three children; however, they've been stuck in Serbia in total for over two-and-a-half years. 

"We came here because my baby has heart problems and we want to make sure he gets medical treatment," her husband Abdullah Yousofi explained, highlighting that he would like to take his family to Germany "for a better future for our children, but we don't have the money and here in Serbia, we face an uncertain future."

The Krnjaca asylum center is notorious for violence  Photo Naser AhmadiInfomigrants

Violence and Tension

Hans Friedrich Schoder, head of UNHCR Serbia, told InfoMigrants in an exclusive interview that smugglers and criminals have a great deal of influence on refugees and migrants, especially on minors, which has resulted in a great deal of tension among the migrants — and sometimes even in violence: "We try as much as it is possible to create a safe atmosphere. Together with the government of Serbia, we support five accommodation centers here in order to provide safety to underage refugees ... but some of the underage migrants seek contact with  smugglers and put themselves in danger this way," Schoder said.

Hans Friedrich Schoder head of UNHCR Serbia  Photo Naser Ahmadi

Based on the reports of Serbian media, two Afghan refugees have already been killed so far this year. One of them died in Belgrade and the second one just outside the "Krnjaca" asylum center. According to official reports, they were killed as a result of disputes between two refugee groups.

The Commissariat for Refugees and Migrations of Serbia says that they are trying to make the refugee centers safer; Svetlana Velimirovic, the deputy of the Commissariat, stressed in an exclusive interview with InfoMigrants that these two cases "occurred outside of migrant camps. Migrants who are living in camps are safe."

Svetlana Velimirovic deputy of Commissar for Refugees and Migrations of Serbia  Photo Naser Ahmadi

Even though migrants living in Serbia are able to apply for an asylum there, many say that they do not wish to do so. Their objective is to cross the Hungarian and Croatian borders, therefore entering the European Union. However, Hungary has closed its border with Serbia and it is letting only one migrant a day in to enter the country legally; Croatia meanwhile keeps pushing back refugees to Serbia, often violently so. 

Migrant in Serbia are facing an increasingly uncertain situation. The only thing that is certain to them is that they do not want to stay in Serbia.


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