March 1–“Slovenian police are taking money away from migrants, as the amount of fines depends on the amount found on a person. If they find 120 euros, the fine is 120 euros. If they find 330 euros then the fine is 330 euros. They are thus, sent back to Croatia, without money.”
The Balkan refugee route is the more impenetrable for refugees who seek refuge of the European Union going through Turkey, Greece and the Balkans. Refugees from Syria and Iraq can still travel in an organized manner from Macedonia to Austria, but people who wish to reach Western European countries, and come from Morocco, Algeria, and other countries and other countries not affected by the war, are on the road to an imagined better life, experiencing a real cavalry. Refugees from Afghanistan are in an uninhabited position, who until yesterday had a free passage to Germany. Namely, the war in Afghanistan is no longer being considered as ‘active’, and so people who hold passports from Afghanistan no longer have access to the west.
Blocking the path
In a number of cases, the guarantee to be let through the border is not about having a Syrian or Iraqi passport, as is the case in countries along the Balkan route. Authorities often pose trick questions and it is enough for the refugees to make a slight mistake in answering for them to be blocked entry. Furthermore, our agency has received photos of penalties that Slovenian authorities charge to citizens of non-threatened countries, who also try to migrate. They practically take away all the money they have in Slovenia because they are considered to have illegally attempted to cross the border.
In the park near the Belgrade railway and bus station, we spent two afternoons willingly speaking with people who were returned from Croatia to Serbia. In question, are mostly migrants from Algeria and Morocco. Although in Belgrade there are quite a few people who have been sent back from Croatia, due to consideration that they are economic migrants, in the park at both stations, previously the main place for the gathering of migrants, today only smaller groups of five or six travelers can be seen. There, there are no migrants in large numbers because Serbian police are often scattering them away. In the case of those who were there, as well as Arabic translator Zeljko Cvijanovic who works for one of Belgrade’s Humanitarian Organizations, we inquired about the experiences of migrants returned from Croatia.
– They come to Belgrade in order to spend a few days there, before attempting to cross the border again. Their experiences in Serbia and Croatia are not as dramatic as those from Greece and Macedonia. Only one young man complained to me that the police in Croatia had beat him because he tried to get into a train that Syrians and Iraqis often use to travel to Slavonski Brod. The worst situation in the Balkans is in Bulgaria, where migrants sleep in the forests, in constant fear and escape from the police. More injured migrants come to us from Bulgaria, and most of these injuries occurred in their escape from the country,” says the translator Cvijanovic.
Croatia sent them back
With the help of Cvijanovic we spoke to five young men from Morocco and Algeria, who are also in hopes on travelling to Austria and Germany. In their first attempt, they failed to cross the Serbian-Croatian border.
– Croatian police sent us back to Serbia, and then we decided to come back into Belgrade. Here, we will rest and then try again in Croatia – they told us. When asked if they try to cross with the help of smugglers, they replied that had no money for that and that they would travel alone, under the auspices of night.
–We do not intend to go back where we come from. We’ll try it until we can no more. We want to find a better life, we do not want to live like dogs, told us one of the Moroccans we spoke to in Belgrade’s park. In the Serbian capital on the streets, we saw at least a dozen groups of refugees who are wandering lightly. Many of them will try to cross the border illegally.
If they are caught, another deportation awaits them, and they will, for example, if caught in Slovenia be left without any money they carry with them. As was previously mentioned, our newspaper has certificates of seizure of objects and the fines that Slovenian police charged those who were captured on its borders. On one of the Slovenian Certificates of seizure, it is evident that the Slovenian police took away 330 euros from migrants. On another however it can be seen that the migrants was charged with a fine of 460 euros. In other words, the Slovenian police are taking away money from migrants, and the amount of the penalty depends on the amount found upon their person. If they find 120 euros, the penalty will be 120 euros. If they find 330 euros, the fine will be 330 euros. In Croatia they are returned without money, it could be said they are -legally robbed. The Croatian police are left to accept and determine their status and prepare for further action.
Fear of interrogation
Two days ago, a train was sent from Slovenia to Croatia, with about a hundred people, some 50 women and children. Upon their arrival in Croatia, the police placed them in a part of the camp in Slavonski Brod, where NGOs do not have access to. They wait for a solution to what their status is there. Two days ago, in that part of the camp there were 241 people.
At the same time, there are fewer refugees from Serbia to Croatia. Some days their number is lower than the daily limit set by Slovenia as the maximum daily quota of people who will let it through its territory. The daily quota is a maximum of 500 people. Information about why a smaller number of refugees is being released does not exist, but it can be concluded that the Balkan route is slowly but surely closing its doors for migrants. Non-governmental organizations report that among the migrants there is a widespread fear of examination conducted with registration, because even those who are fleeing the war- affected Syria or Iraq, will be returned if they give only one wrong answer to the questions asked by police. If for example, refugees say they want to join their families, they are stopped. As a correct answer, only war, asylum and Germany are recognized.