Belgrade, November 26 – Refugee and Migration Commissioner Vladimir Cucic said that it is true that in the surrounding areas of Sid some citizens are having problems with the migrants who are openly waiting to enter the European Union, but stated that these are people who do not wish to be accommodated in reception centers and denied that there was not enough capacity in those centers.
In a statement to the BETA news agency, Cucic said that he had a lot of understanding for anyone who was harmed, regardless of whether they are a resident of that part of Serbia or a migrant who was robbed, and added that the commissariat encouraged the police to find all perpetrators and are to prosecute them in accordance with the law.
“In our centers in Sid, and in other parts of Serbia, there is absolutely enough room for all migrants to settle in. But those who are housed in the centers are not a problem, but rather problems lie with those who are not in centers in Sid, and elsewhere in Serbia. Because this is mostly where illegal traffickers are who organize smuggling and tell them where to sit and wait for several days, and that they will enable them to cross,” Cucic said.
He said that the Commissariat had placed these people in centers on several occasions, but after a couple of days they escape and try to find help on the other side.
Cucić added that he had recently met with representatives of foreign NGOs that provide these people with “various support/supplies in their illegal habitats”. He said that these organizations were told that the state expects them to stop with this and that they were given a deadline of a week to consider it.
“If they want to continue to help as before, as they did in Horgos or in Belgrade at the bus station, that is then the worst way. If they want to contribute to getting people into the center, than that is okay. If not, your assistance is undesirable,” said Cucic.
He asked people from a Spanish organization whether they could imagine if 150 Serbia would come to Madrid or Seville illegally and let someone live there in the city center, whether the Spanish authorities would tolerate it.
“And why do you think we will tolerate this? Get involved in the system! Because there is room in the centers. In Sid and in other centers,” Cucic said.
Director of Asylum Protect Center Rados Djurovic, however, says that if judged by the experience of the people from that organization, the situation in Sid is not what is represented by Commissioner Cucic.
Djurovic said that the Center’s officials on the ground notice that they do not accept people into centers around Sid, with the explanation given that there is no room for them.
“On Wednesday, the center’s officials tried to accommodate three Afghan youth into a reception center in Adasevci, but they were refused there, with the excuse to issue camp certificates for accommodation in Adasevci and Pincipovac camps, and that they will only then accept them,” said Djurovic and added that such certificates do not exist.
He added that the only the police issue certificates of asylum, and not a certificate of accommodation in reception centers.
Djurovic said that according to the data of the center, around 200 people live in the area around Sid, and among them are families.
“They sleep along the border in the open, in fields and forests, but also in abandoned factories at the entrance to the city. They are hungry, and cold, in scraps of clothes, and are in a difficult psychological and physical state” he added
What is particularly worrisome in his words is the fact that at least 20 percent of them are unaccompanied minors.
Djurovic added that the situation is not idyllic as it is presented, not is it easy to get accommodation into one of the camps.
“On the contrary, in the center in Obrenovac, migrants can not enter, only those who have a pre-issued card of the center. But those who are here are also complaining about the conditions and bad treatment of the administration center. They do not receive people who do not have a camp administration card from before, and they are also told that there is no room for them. They are also asked for a police confirmation for accommodation in Principovci, which does not exist,” said Djurovic.
He adds that the police occasionally seize and take these people to centers in Bujanovac and Presevo, where their movement is limited and they immediately seek ways to return to the northern part of Serbia, assisted by smugglers.
“This is how the problem is shifting to the local environment and citizens who are neither in charge of housing nor any other aspect of this problem, nor can they solve it,” Djurovic said and warned that the presence of people in the open in large numbers, and outside of centers just threatens to create problems not only for the local environment, but also to create far-reaching social, health and security problems.