Belgrade, December 5, 2023– The President of Asylum Protection Center, Radoš Đurović, told RTS that at least 50 people come to Serbia every day from the direction of Bulgaria and North Macedonia, and there are no criminal activities along the border with Hungary after “unprecedented” police actions. However, after some actions, smuggling quiets down, but after a few months it gets stronger, noted Đurović and added that it is difficult to stop migration with one-time actions.
The president of Asylum Protection Center, Radoš Đurović, said, in a guest appearance in RTS’s Dnevnik, that most of the people now are in the centers, but they no longer have enough places, except Krnjača, all other centers are overbooked.
“Our capacity is 6,000 places, and we already have many more people in the camps. On the other hand, the influx of people from the direction of Bulgaria, and North Macedonia, is not dwindling. According to our estimates, we have at least 50 people entering from the direction of Bulgaria every day, from the direction of North Macedonia similar number, maybe even a little more. And in that sense, the global migration that passes through the Balkans and Serbia has not been stopped,” noted Đurović.
There are no refugees in the belt along the border with Hungary
According to him, in the area along the border with Hungary, there are currently no refugees, nor those criminal activities that were occuring until recently.
This is all due to, as he states, a large-scale action that was unprecedented in terms of the number of people involved, the police and the capacity.
“But, on the other hand, some other places in the country are burdened – where are reception centers for these people, but also in Šid and Adaševci we have a large number of people who are accommodated in the centers and who now increasingly want to reach the EU through Croatia,” Đurović pointed out.
The price of smuggling increased
Answering the question whether this means that Hungary will no longer be the main exit point, Đurović says that it is difficult to say whether this situation will remain or not.
“Smuggling received a strong blow with this kind of action, but criminal groups need some time to consolidate again. This is a process that we have seen before in the field – that after some actions, smuggling quiets down, but after a few months it is already strong again,” said Đurović.
In addition to that, the data provided by refugees show that the prices have been increased in order to reach the smugglers, to reach the northern border, and thus 1,700 euros are requested from Sjenica to transport people back to the north of the country by taxi or in some other way.
One-time actions can hardly stop migration
As he says, it should be taken into account that global migration can hardly be stopped by one-time actions in this way.
“Obviously, there is a large concentration of people on the Serbian-Croatian border, but in order for them to continue through Croatia, they need smugglers who know the terrain, who have developed their activities there. So it is still very difficult to assume that migration will now turn around towards Croatia, without people trying to reach the EU through Hungary again,” underlined Đurović.
He reminds that Croatia and Hungary are also Schengen countries, which means that after the border with Serbia, as a rule, refugees do not have further border controls and through those countries can reach Western countries, where everyone wants to go.
Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria fail to stop migration
“On this way just some time is bought and to some extent they are trying to slow down the flow of people temporarily. But if Turkey or the whole European Union, Greece or Bulgaria, fail to stop the migration, more than 41,000 people came from Turkey to Greece, then it shows that migration cannot be stopped globally, especially not in the middle of the Balkans, where Serbia is also located,” explained Đurović.
We should not be tricked that it is a global phenomenon and this exceeds the Serbian capacities to fight against irregular migration, notes Đurović.
A kind of absurdity and a specific situation
He also reminds that from the direction of the south, from the European Union, which means from Bulgaria, people come every day, and continue towards the EU.
This, he points out, is a kind of absurdity, a specific situation where the responsibility of the European Union is obvious. “I think we could insist that for such issues we get helped, that they are being resolved on the level of the European Union, and not that only our country deals with them , because in that way real results cannot follow fighting against irregular migration,” said Đurović.
Speaking about the structure of migrants, Đurović points out that Syrians are dominant since last year, that is, a few months after the devastating earthquake in Turkey, they lost their homes, the most affected were the provinces in the east and south of Turkey, which received millions of people, around two million refugees were there.
Unaccompanied minors in camps for adults
Among the population of refugees there are many unaccompanied minors who are often accommodated in camps for adults.
“It is difficult to determine who is an older minor and who is not, because these are children over 15 years old, and this creates additional problems because smugglers are especially focused on abusing them and blackmailing their parents in order to get more money. So these are all some problems that go together with this migration and that make it difficult for people to work in the field and further complicate the situation”, Đurović points out.
Engaging third countries like Rwanda
Đurović says that it is being talked about new concept in European countries, above all the wealthy destination countries that want to get rid of the burden of refugees by engaging third countries.
When you look at the English example, it is clear that the judiciary and regulations respecting rights stop this, Đurović states.
“The idea is to move asylum seekers refugees from the UK to Rwanda, to have asylum procedures there and stay there, as the assumption is that Rwanda is a safe country for refugees. However, the English Supreme Court said that without proof that Rwanda is safe country and without eliminating the risk that these people could be returned to the countries they came from, there is no question of England sending these people and that it is against customary international law,” explained Đurović.
Đurović concludes that the fight against smuggling through fences and violence does not give enough results, but creates a situation like it was in Serbia.
“And that means that smuggling groups are only getting stronger because someone has to help those people, that is, take their money so that they can continue,” Đurović said.