Belgrade, 08/16/2021 – The Taliban arrival in power in Afghanistan, among other things, may also mean the arrival of a large number of refugees from this country to the Balkans, but we should not expect the migrant crisis from 2015 will be repeated, according to the authorities. However, Serbia may find itself in an ungrateful situation because it is the last stop on the migrants’ path to the EU.
As far as Afghanistan is from Serbia, the introduction of sharia law in this country in southwest Asia will, unfortunately, also be felt in our country. A large number of people have been fleeing Afghanistan head-first for days because of the extreme authorities that abolished all secular laws and announced retaliation for all those who cooperated with the Americans.
So many people want to leave the country that they blocked the airport runway in Kabul, preventing planes from taking off. Many of them flee to the West. The land route to that destination leads through Turkey and the Balkans, which is why we should expect a new wave of migrants in this part of Europe.
Especially if we have in mind that the USA sent a request to Albania and Priština to temporarily receive Afghan refugees seeking visas to enter the United States of America.
That is why the question arises whether the Balkans, or above all Serbia, is ready for a new influx of refugees from Asia?
The key question is how Turkey will treat refugees
Director of Asylum Protection Center, Radoš Đurović, shares his opinion with “Blic” that a wave of refugees from Afghanistan can certainly be expected in the coming period.
-The number of asylum seekers in Turkey has been increasing for several months. There will certainly be an increased movement of refugees from Afghanistan, especially if roads are opened as exit corridors from the country. Refugees will, first of all, flee to Iran, which is close to them because of the language, but also to Turkey, since it is not as far away as it seems to us. We should not forget that more than 27 million people live in Afghanistan, and that the Taliban government is very extreme, very similar to “Al-Qaeda” as it abolishes all secular laws – Đurović emphasizes and reminds that the Taliban used women and children as bombers.
As he says, the key question is how Turkey will treat refugees from Afghanistan.
-We will see if Turkey will make an agreement with the EU on this topic or it will simply push migrants towards Europe. Certainly the EU must be ready to wait for migrants on the Greek sea and islands. Anyway, there has already been an increase in the influx of refugees to Serbia, so from the beginning of the year to July 1, more than 27,000 entered our country. Most of the migrants were from Afghanistan, 38 percent, followed by 20 percent from Syria, then from Somalia, Iraq… – added Đurović.
Serbia is in an ungrateful situation because it is the last stop on the way to the EU
However, our interlocutor does not expect a huge influx of migrants in Serbia and the Balkans like in 2015.
-The EU now has a system of slowed migration and will certainly stop the large influx of refugees from the Middle East. Our country is part of that system of merged courts. And that system implies that there are physical barriers at the borders, such as we have in Preševo or Hungary, for example. Furthermore, police forces in all countries on the migrant route are stronger and better equipped than six years ago. Also, the EU finances the reception, accommodation, services and humanitarian aid for refugees, and there is better coordination between countries in order to share the burden of migration – explains Đurović.
Again, this does not mean that our country does not face demanding work.
-The position of Serbia is the most sensitive because we are the last stop towards the EU, that is, the promised land. No matter how many refugees there are in the Balkans, they will end up in Serbia on their way to the EU. It should be borne in mind that we have a physical border with the surrounding EU countries and that Hungary, Croatia and Romania organize so-called “push backs” of hundreds of migrants across the green border and return them to Serbia. This can represent a major humanitarian problem, which is why Serbia is in an ungrateful situation – concludes Đurović and adds that Serbia has the capacity to accept a maximum of 6,000 migrants, which according to him is not enough.
“A signal for concern only when 5,000 Afghans start leaving the country”
And the commissioner of the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration, Vladimir Cucić, claims that Serbia has no reason for any concern at this moment.
-“We think that the process that has been happening before our eyes for the past month and a half is too fast and at times so dynamic that any conclusions from our side about how everything will unfold in the next few months would be frivolous and unprofessional,” said Cucić.
Whatever it would be, it is, says Cucić, about something that is more than 7,000 kilometers away.
As he said, the signal for concern will be if 5,000, 10,000 or 20,000 people leave Afghanistan, while for now there are hundreds or thousands on certain routes.
-Depending on the actions of the Taliban, there will or will not be a mass movement of the population. It can happen that the exit takes place by capillary action and lasts for years, concluded Cucić.
There are currently 3,886 migrants in Serbia
The Commissariat for Refugees and Migration points out to “Blic” that 3,886 migrants are currently staying in reception and asylum centers in Serbia.
– Of that number, 30 percent are migrants from Afghanistan (1170). In 2015, the Republic of Serbia said it would develop the capacity to accommodate up to 6,000 people at any time, which has been done. Moreover, Serbia has developed an efficient reception and care system that can accommodate a larger number of people, if necessary. A strategic approach to solving this problem, through the functioning of the Government’s Working Group for solving the problem of mixed migration flows and the annual update of the Response Plan in the event of an increased influx of migrants, enables Serbia to be ready to respond to all kinds of challenges at any time – highlight in the commissariat.