The practice of illegal expulsion or pushbacks of exiles is strengthening this year in the south of Serbia towards Northern Macedonia, and only in the first 6 months of 2021, according to the testimony of migrants, Asylum Protection Center documented over 410 pushbacks of migrants from Serbia to Northern Macedonia.
It is becoming increasingly clear that Serbia, following the countries in the region, has chosen to push-backs as one of the ways to fight against irregular migration. The construction of a fence on the border with Northern Macedonia, which began at the same time as COVID_19 pandemic in the country, also contributes to this. Violence, mostly physical, but also intimidation and threats, are becoming more frequent in the testimonies of refugees who were victims of illegal pushing across the Serbian border back to Northern Macedonia. However, violence in the south of Serbia is still much less present than on Serbia’s borders with individual EU members (Croatia, Hungary, Romania).
On average, between 100 and 150 people a day try to enter Serbia from Northern Macedonia, mostly in groups of 20-30 people. Some of those who manage to enter go directly to the reception center Presevo, while others try to continue to Belgrade or even continue on, directly to the north of the Serbia.
As many as 38% of the interviewees experienced a push-back to Northern Macedonia, most of them at least once, and a slightly smaller number twice. The highest number of pushbacks experienced by one person was 11 times.
Two-thirds of push-backed persons come from Afghanistan, while the second large group are Pakistanis. Together, people from the two countries make up 85% of those pushed-back to Northern Macedonia. Then, there are people from the Arabic-speaking countries, from Algeria, Somalia and Syria, and the remaining 5% are exiles from Eritrea, Bangladesh, Egypt, Algeria, etc.
Serbia continues to build a fence on the border with Northern Macedonia and is increasingly trying to stop irregular migration in bilateral co-operation with the border police of EU member states present on southern Serbia’s borders and with FRONTEX representatives on Serbia’s border with Bulgaria.