[18.08.2017] Serbian NGO’s pressured to campaign for president Vucic

4500 Asylum seekers and people on the move are currently staying in Serbia. Since last summer this number has not been that small. After the quantity rose up to 8000 in winter 2016 it is constantly decreasing since March.


The story of a 10-years old boy from Afghanistan who is residing since last winter with his family in Krnjaca AC* in Serbia and remarkably talented with portraying and drawing fascinated media and people not only in Serbia, but made headlines in whole Europe. After he had an exhibit  last week (09.08.) in a café in Belgrade to raise money for a Serbian child’s post-cancer therapy, last Wednesday (16.08.) he and his family were invited by Serbia’s president Aleksandar Vucic. Personally Vucic promised a scholarship for Farhad and offered the whole family the Serbian citizenship in case they decide to stay in Serbia which would be a great honor for his country. As well he praised Serbia as a nation that would “sincere welcome” Asylum seekers and underlined the perspectives for the family to built up a great future in Serbia.¹
Volunteers working with Serbian NGO’s report that their organizations get pressured by representatives to spread the news of Vucic’s offer and publish pictures of the meeting on their social media platforms and web sides if “they want to stay in good terms with [the Serbian authorities]”².
After NGO’s felt pressured to delimit their humanitarian aid to people in the move in Belgrade city center after an open letter by the Serbian government in November, the same ones are now used to spread political propaganda³ for the autocratic president who is besides all his other blemish one of the political forces responsible for general and concrete iniquitous misdoings in Serbia’s migration policy. Vucic who by law also has not the authority to grant international protection, Asylum or citizenship to anyone takes advantage by the wide media attention and uses people who are directly affected by his regressive policy for advertising himself as a philanthropist, putting his person and politics in a positive light also in front of the international community. The offering was a symbolic act without consequences first of all complimenting the president.


*There are five “Asylum centers” (AC) in Serbia and 13 temporary centers called “Transit centers”(TC) or “Reception centers”(RC): map of all refugee camps in Serbia (July 2017)

¹ http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2017&mm=08&dd=16&nav_id=102086
² AYS Daily digest 17.08.: https://medium.com/@AreYouSyrious/ays-daily-digest-17-08-17-new-old-route-spain-8b1149847fd5
³ Infopark FB post: https://www.facebook.com/infoparkserbia/posts/1404751789579081

[15.08.2017] Current situation in Sombor TC: rising tense

supplement to report about racist violation against refugee in Sombor [03.08.2017]

In the fringe area of Sombor, a charming Serbian town with around 60.000 habitants, less than 20km to the Croatian and less then 40km distance to the Hungarian border, a temporary refugee camp (Transit Center*) opened in the beginning of November 2016 as one of nine temporary shelters built up from autumn 2016 until spring 2017 in order to accommodate the increasing number of refugees in Serbia at this time.
Since several weeks people staying in Sombor TC feel more and more stress triggered by enforced relocations to the closed camp Presovo, the presence of fascists & racist violations from locals and pressure from the camp’s authority.

From the beginning the Sombor Transit center was one of Serbia’s smallest camps. Mainly families were and are living there, usually between 80 and 150 people all together.
It is located ca. 5km from Sombor’s city center, in a pretty outside district, surrounded by wood and fields and like all camps managed by the “Serbian Commissioner for refugees and migrants” (SCRM).
The camp consists of quite a lot of open area with some single trees and wild growing grass, an office house for the administration, a bigger shelter house for families and unaccompanied minors and a big white tent for alone-traveling-men. Generally single men are not allowed to enter the families’ house. While sanitation for families are in the shelter house, those who sleep in the tent use toilets and showers installed in some containers outside. Even for eating they stay outside or in the tightness of their bunk beds in the tent after the food distribution. Residents claim that the food is bad and not nutritious (lunch delivered by an external caterer seems to be okay, but breakfast and dinner is always just few slices of white toast and tasteless tea). Often people decide to buy food in a supermarket 10 minutes by foot from the camp and cook themselves. Privacy is rare especially for those staying in the tent, hygiene is good – also due to the Commissariat’s daily order with some residents to clean and tidy up rooms, “garden” and washing rooms. Every day from morning until 5pm there are some doctors available in the camp who however only provide painkillers and are not equipped for serious cases of injuries or sicknesses. Regularly also a couple of policemen is present in the camp usually doing nothing. Aside of accommodation, toilets, showers, food and free Wifi, the camp’s offering is very poor, especially in sense of “free time” activities. Apart from a meager outside play ground for kids and a simple football or basketball ground there is NO kind of offer from the camp’s side such as language or school lessons, separate children or woman spaces, workshops nor any happenings or events. People do not receive any pocket money or materials (f.e. for recreational activity). The daily life is in a bad sense extremely boring, people feel completely out of opportunities. The center’s administration’s comment: they were responsible for accommodation and food in the camp but nothing else.¹

TC Sombor: terrain next to the white tent

TC Sombor: bunk beds in the white tent

Tc Sombor: containers with showers and toilents, family-house in the background

TC Sombor: inside the shower container

The whole camp area is surrounded by a shoulder high fence with two gates from which one is usually closed and the other one in front on the administration house in the Commissariat’s field of view but open during daytime. Only residents and people who are working inside the camp are allowed to enter. Officially the camp is currently not receiving new people. But although the Commissariat refuses to register more refugees or to distribute more meal vouchers they do not make any effort to keep an overview who is staying in the camp. As there are several big well-known wholes in the fence and the commissariat is not checking people’s registration cards lots of people without registration are entering, staying and leaving the camp without any problems.
As the capacity of the camp is still far from being reached, as inhabitants report, people suppose that the camp’s leadership does not cancel old registrations which means that quite a lot of people are registered in Sombor who are not staying there (anymore) and consequently that the official number of residents is much higher then the actual which might be the reason why new registrations are not possible anymore. Generally people describe the camp’s management as corrupt and unfriendly. Showing no interest for the people’s needs they are sometimes threatening for example with deportations to the RC in Presovo in order to create pressure and obedience.

As this blog already reported about current enforced relocations to the closed camp in Presovo  (click here), also residents of Sombor TC are affected by that. People staying in the camp report about policemen irregularly coming in the very early morning hours (2-5pm) inside the camp and forcing some single men sleeping in the tent into buses that drive them to Presovo: The police is surrounding the tent, blocking the entrances to prevent escape and beat those who try to resist. Some people got already deported several times, as some succeed to come back from Presovo to Sombor, but again were relocated, some of them even two or three times. After a couple of this incidents people are very afraid and leave the camp over night. Only the families in the shelter house and some single men who are badly injured (Hungarian border police violence) or seriously sick are still sleeping in the white tent. Also sleeping in the surroundings of the center is not safe as police is also targeting for people in the jungle and fields in this area. It is assumed that SCRM wants to transform the center to a shelter just for families and unaccompanied minors via that relocations.

Another development stoking fears and insecurity is the increasing presence of racist Serbians in Sombor. A report about a racist attack by locals on a migrant  describes the current xenophobic atmosphere and incident recently going on in Sombor (click here). Generally people are threatened not to leave the camp after 7pm by fascists “patrolling” as an informal “vigilante group” the street leading to the city, taunting, forcing people to go “back to the camp”, offend people with insulting prejudice and allegations, pushing and physically badgering. Also physical or verbal attacks during nighttime on people sleeping outside of the camp is increasing and getting more and more brutal. About those incidents the Center’s leadership does not feel in charge as well, even does not interfere when they witness violent attacks and accuses the migrants that they should not leave the camp especially during the night. Also the police sends people away who try to report an offense about violations just blaming that migrants should stay inside the TC. This atmosphere also creates an even bigger isolation between migrants and locals as people living in the camp get unconfident about going to the city center at all or getting in contact with Serbians.


*There are five “Asylum centers” (AC) in Serbia and 13 temporary centers called “Transit centers”(TC) or “Reception centers”(RC): map of all refugee camps in Serbia (July 2017)
¹ Report about racist violation against refugee in Sombor [03.08.2017]

Keep up the fight! – call for donations –

Dear supporters, comrades and friends,

during winter 2016/ 2017 pictures of starving and freezing refugees in Belgrade hit the news all over the world. People were struggling to survive in dilapidated barracks behind the central bus station under severe humanitarian circumstances. Media response was extremely high, until the eviction of the barracks took place in may 2017. People living in the barracks were transfered to closed or (still) open camps all over Serbia. Since that their struggle almost disappeared from the cityscape. But only because their problematic situation can not be seen in public anymore, it does not mean that the situation for people on the move has improved. Still, there are thousands of people in Serbia waiting for many months to enter the EU. Especially at the borders to Croatia and Hungary they experience massive physical and psychological violence by police officials or militias before being pushed back to Serbia illegally.
In Serbia itself there are no prospects for refugees. Most of the asylum requests are rejected. Even people who apply for asylum or whose request has been approved already are not guaranteed an access to state support, e.g. language classes, school attendance or social benefits. Without private savings or permanent solidarity support of locals, it is neither possible for them to have a private accommodation nor a work permission nor an health insurance. These factors are necessary to receive the Serbian citizenship and thereby equal rights.
Because of that most people want to continue their journey instead of applying for asylum in Serbia. They are forced to live in a status of insecurity without a legal status. Formally the refugee´s integrity is only guaranteed by international laws, whereas it turns out to be a farce considering the continuing violation of human rights at the EU-borders and in some official Serbian camps.
As a result support in solidarity is still necessary. Just to name a few examples – besides personal help for individuals, there is a need for reliant information about e.g. Dublin III, Asylum procedures in EU-countries, family reunifications etc., furthermore material goods as proper shoes, sleeping bags and backpacks.

We perceive it as a fateful sign seriously effecting refugees in Serbia, if we would have to stop our work here because of„missing“ horror pictures in media resulting in a lack of financial and material donations!

We are dependent on permanent financial support!
Furthermore following goods are needed:
– robust, sturdy shoes ( size 40-45)
– sleeping bags
– backpacks
– clothes for men (S-L)
– smartphones
– flashlights
If you want to transfer money or send material donations, please contact us via mail:


[06.08.2017] violent “push backs” from Croatia increasing

(detailed report written by Rigardu)

Among Serbia’s neighbouring countries especially in Hungary and Croatia border police is guarding the border areas to Serbia, as well as patrolling roads, woods and fields in order to catch people who irregularly crossed the border to Hungary or Croatia. It is common practice that in such cases police often refuses the peoples’ claim for their right of Asylum and International protection and instead irregularly and illegally pushes the persons back to Serbia which marks a violation against Human Rights, International and European law. It is not an uncommonness that refugees get physically and psychically harmed during that incidents.
Since May of this year the force at the Croatian border increased massively again. Lots of people who got detected and push backed currently tell about Croatian border police beating with batons or hands on every part of the body, kicking, dragging people across the ground or shining with flash lights in people’s eyes. Often people come back from the border side with bad injuries that must be treated by doctors. As well there are reports about scanning people’s bodies, checking baggage, looking at private chats in messenger apps and private pictures on mobiles, teasing, shouting and insulting, threats not to come again to Croatia, stealing money and mobiles, spiting on people and taking pictures of the torture. Then police drives them to the border and forces them to run to Serbian territory. The supporting group Rigardu active in Sid (Croatian border) is collecting testimonies concerning this violations (click here).

Fresh Response is documenting cases of violation at the Hungarian border
(click here).

[03.08.2017] racist violation against refugee in Sombor

A racist act of assault took place last evening (Wednesday, 02.08.2017) against a refugee in Sombor. A young men got badly injured by a group of young local men armed with knifes and a metal punch. I.a. he got hit with a knife close to his eye. At the moment he is in ambulant treatment. Doctors affirm that he will convalesce.
The incident happened when around seven drunken Serbians went on the Sombor Transit center‘s ground (camp’s area is surrounded by a knee-high fence) where outside of the camp’s building at the edge of the terrain some single men are sleeping in big tents.
The camp’s director answered the people who announced the incident to the center’s administration that he is responsible for accommodation and food in the camp but nothing else.
There were already some racist incidents happening to people sleeping outside of the camp‘s terrain like damage of tents, theft of valuables or other assaults by apparently mostly drunken locals. People guess that this are impulsive actions done by people coming out of a pub just a few meters away from the camp. Still this especially cruel and violent physical attack is a new level of force against migrants and xenophobia in Serbia. Besides since several weeks migrants staying in Sombor detail about a small mass of Serbian people protesting every evening close to the TC against the camp and migrants in Serbia generally. Usually accompanied by police, sometimes by journalists they show banners and do not let people supposed being migrants pass the street towards the city center by verbal abusing and aggressive gesture and even pushing.
Many people who stay in Sombor claim that they do not feel safe anymore.

The Transit center (TC) in Sombor (border triangle between Serbia, Croatia and Hungary) was opened in November 2016, according to UNHCR currently accommodates around 150 people, mostly families, and is located outside of the city center in between of fields and wood. There are also quite of lot of people staying without registration outside in the fields in the surrounding mostly because they are afraid of transfers to the camp in Presovo.