IRR | 22.03.2017
A public push is needed to stop refugee and migrant deaths on the western Balkans route.
IRR News continues its investigation into violations and deaths at EU borders, focusing on seven deaths in the Serbian, Hungarian and Bulgarian border zones.
All the official reports, photographic evidence, testimonies and case studies are there. Fresh Response Serbia, the Migrant Solidarity Group of Hungary (Migszol), Belgrade Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Doctors Without Borders, Are You Syrious (AYS), Moving Europe, Centre for Peace Studies, Jesuit Refugee Service, Amnesty International, Save the Children, Human Rights Watch, these and countless other NGOs and activists have tirelessly documented a pattern of violation and abuse by border guards, military personnel and vigilantes, at Serbia’s borders with Hungary, Bulgaria and Croatia.
The Institute of Race Relations (IRR), which keeps a record of migrant and refugee deaths in Europe in an attempt to ‘memorialise death and restore full humanity to those who have died’, has noted seven deaths over the last year in Serbia, and at the border zones with Hungary and Bulgaria. An estimated 8-9,000 refugees are currently stranded in Serbia, many of whom have survived the winter, when temperatures plummeted to -20C, camping in abandoned warehouses behind the main train station in Belgrade. One 18-year-old Afghan boy did not make it through the winter. In November 2016, his frozen and malnourished body was discovered in an abandoned industrial building in Bulgaria, very close to the Serbian border. Two others whose deaths were recorded, an unnamed Afghan and an unnamed Pakistani man, were walking in dangerous areas close to unofficial makeshift migrant settlements when they were knocked down by vehicles. While the Afghan man, the victim of a hit-and- run, died close to Belgrade, the Pakistani man died close to the Horgoš transit zone, on the Serbian side of the border with Hungary, in a field which is only accessible by walking along a highway and across a small dirt road.