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)
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