No More War

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    Hundreds of refugees and migrants, mostly from Afghanistan and Pakistan are arriving in Serbia every day despite the prospect of sleeping rough in abandoned warehouses or squatting in various parks. The warehouses lie behind the main Belgrade train station in a litter-strewn no-man’s land dotted with puddles and muddy sludge. Graffiti is scrawled across many of the walls, some reading, "We need to learn," We are human, we need safe crossing," and "Afghanistan is not safe." The air inside the warehouse is saturated with smoke from the fires they use to stay warm. Many sleep on the ground or have set up small tents inside the building, while other groups have used sheets of plywood, empty bookcases or doors to block off their own areas of muddy floor space. Several nonprofits from the UK and Spain work every day to provide warm meals for those stranded here. The EU-Turkey deal, which was supposed to stem the flow of refugees arriving in Europe by boat, has meant many refugees are being forced to take a deadlier land route that crosses Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria and now ends in Serbia. Although the country is not part of the European Union, it borders several countries that are part of the bloc, including Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. According to UNHCR  over 7,800 migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are stranded in Serbia, the majority are teenagers and young men between the ages of 15 and 22. Most of the people are fleeing conflict or persecution and would have the right to claim asylum, but many I spoken with, feel they don't have the opportunity to have their cases heard fairly. Many have described fleeing because their houses were bombed or their family were approached by ISIS or Taliban for recruitment. Serbia does have official processing centers but when I spoke with the refugee's they gave several reasons for not going, saying the camps are badly overcrowded, as more people are arriving every day, or when space becomes available, they only took families, but most of them refuse to move for fear of being identified and not being able to continue their journey on wards to other European Union countries. The refugee's ultimately hope is to move on from Serbia, as thousands have been waiting for up to 6 months to a year, making repeated failed attempts to cross into Hungary, Bulgaria or Croatia, to start a new life in Western Europe.  In recent weeks, as the weather has warmed, there's been an increase of reported dog bites and violent treatment by police in Bulgaria and Hungary to deter them from repeated attempts, as there's increased interest of refugees and migrants wanting to return to Greece, Turkey or their country of origin. Most of these returnees plan to take irregular paths, a reverse Balkan route of sorts. This is causing new problems since this type of migration is unsafe. 

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