News - September 10, 2015

Meanwhile in... Serbia

In the news: The great stream of refugees fleeing the war in Syria are crossing Hungary, Macedonia and Serbia

'Serbia is experiencing big groups of refugees who pass through cities such as Novi Sad and Belgrade. They are in a bad way. The refugees spend the night in parks, under bridges or just on the street. They often lack blankets and sleeping bags and there isn’t much food or water either. There are no facilities for these people.

There are many people helping the refugees. The government encourages that too. Friends of mine are distributing water and food in the city. Sleeping bags, blankets and old clothes are being collected. Serbia is not part of the EUR so there are border controls. Refugees want to reach Hungary (which is EU). Many are travelling without passports and they have to fi nd the way themselves, which they usually do with their mobile phones. They travel on public transport, so trains and buses are extremely full.

Because of the large number of refugees the towns are getting dirtier. The presence of so many people living on the street sometimes creates tensions. You can feel that a lot more than, say, a year ago. People say there is a lot more theft and that women out alone get called after. And Serbia already had a lot of homeless people. We haven’t got our own affairs in order. So our country cannot cope with such a large number of refugees.

What we are seeing now is the fi rst wave of refugees. These are wealthy people fl eeing their homeland. A second wave of poor people is still to come. I don’t know what is to be done, it is terrible. The whole of Europe will have to collaborate to help these people and reduce the problems in eastern Europe.’