Migrants Walking from Serbia Nearing Croatian Border

By 12 November 2016

Migrants who started walking from Belgrade on Friday are currently about 70 kilometres from Croatian border.

Around 150 migrants from Afghanistan and Pakistan, who on Friday set off on foot from Belgrade towards Croatia, came to about seventy kilometres from the border. Due to fatigue and exhaustion, some have returned to Serbia's capital, reports Index.hr on November 12, 2016.

Walking on the Belgrade-Zagreb motorway, they have arrived at the Šimanovci toll station, about seventy kilometres from the Batrovci-Bajakovo border crossing. The group consists mostly of men who carry banners with messages such as “Please, open the border”, “Stop the war” and “No more war”. Media reports claim that their destination are Italy and France, and that they would wait at the border with Croatia until it is opened for their passage.

Serbian Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Aleksandar Vulin said that migrants have the right to move on the territory of Serbia for 72 hours, but do not have the right to block roads, traffic and borders. “They have the right, if their documents are in order, to move around the country for 72 hours, but they do not have the right to disrupt daily lives of our citizens”, said Vulin, stressing that Serbia would behave towards migrants and refugees “according to the highest humanitarian standards”.

He pointed out that no one should give migrants false hope that their problems would be solved by making it to a border crossing. “We all know that they will not be allowed to pass. Europe will not accept economic migrants from Afghanistan and Pakistan”, said Vulin. “Migrants are headed on foot towards Croatia because they have the wrong information that they will be allowed to cross the border and enter the European Union”, said on Friday Ivan Mišković, the spokesman of the Serbia’s Commission for Migrants and Refugees.

UNHCR representative in Serbia Hans Fridrch Schoder said earlier this week that during the migrant crisis only 50 to 60 refugees decided to stay and live in Serbia and “now they should be given the opportunity to contribute to the Serbian society”. “We are continuing the dialogue about the opportunities that are available to refugees”, said Schoder at the roundtable “Serbia: From a transit country to a destination country”, stressing that Serbia in this regard has clear laws and has accepted standards needed for joining the European Union.