Thursday, 16 June 2016

On the Eve of the World Refugee Day

Although the Balkan route was officially "closed" in March this year, a number of people still take it.

Around 150 refugees arrive daily to Belgrade. Some of them continue their journey within a few hours, others decide to stay in Serbia for several days. Most come from Macedonia, a lot of them have already spent several months in Idomeni, Greece. Some still come through Bulgaria.

They usually arrive in Belgrade with smugglers, sometimes by bus or taxi, and often on foot, walking for hours through Macedonia/Bulgaria and Serbia.

Upon arrival in Belgrade, in the Asylum Centre Krnjača, they can get accommodation, food and medical help. If they express the intention to seek asylum, they can stay in Krnjača during  the asylum procedure. However, if they are not registered, they can stay overnight with the obligation to register the next day.

If they are for some reason unable to go to the Asylum Centre, they will stay in the street, with neither a place to sleep over, nor an accessible public toilet. They are provided with food, important information and basic necessities, such as clothing, footwear and hygiene packages by humanitarian organizations. For health assistance, they can address medical organizations and institutions present in the vicinity of the bus and railway stations.

If they arrive during the night, refugees don’t have provided transportation to the Asylum Centre. They have no place to spend the night, while sleeping on the grass in parks around bus and train stations is prohibited. Sometimes up to 150 new people arrive in the course of one night only. Organizations that are present in the field can only help a certain number of people, giving them dry food packages and helping them to get to the Asylum Centre.

Among the groups coming to Belgrade, there are families with small children, single mothers with infants, the elderly and sick. Those who are particularly exposed to various risks are unaccompanied minors who often come in groups formed on route.

Their stories, life experiences and the difficulties they face are different. However, they all have one thing in common – they have all left their homes in search of a new, safe place to live.

On the eve of June 20th, the World Refugee Day, in the coming days we want to share with you who are the people we meet, what they did, what they were thinking about and who they were "before", but also to share where they go, what they hope for and what is the desired “after” for them. How similar we are and how different; how much and what we have learned about each other and from each other.

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