Serbia is a very small country - indeed for one so small it is very well known.  Is this because it punches above its weight or because being part of the Balkans it is the cross roads of Europe and the Middle East, or it just infamous for the wrong reasons thrown up by history.

I arrived back yesterday in sweltering heat - I have not packed the right clothes!  In the evenings it's warm and balmy - lots of people are out walking in the evening.  And Belgrade has a new confidence - buildings are lit to show them off, church towers gleam with beneficial donations.  And the young folks have short dresses to reflect the weather and short sleeves to reflect the weekend.  It could be a video cut away for a re-issue of a Cardigans track for the summer.

 

But there is something else going on - amidst the warmth, the confidence, the weekend atmosphere there is an undercurrent.

I know this city quite well, I walk at night and go for an early run - some supermarkets open very late and I go and buy extra fruit juices and cholocate snacks for my hotel room - and a bottle of rakia too.  And so you pass the doorways darkened shadows in the late evening.  But this time, more than ever before, those shadows move.

For under the dark, below the confident up-lighting, live those without property and without incomes.  But here, right now, in Belgrade there is a huge number of new arrivals - refugees, migrants, those looking for work, foreigners.  They carry their possessions, they rarely speak Serbian, they usually speak Arabic and they are dominantly male.  And the number are rising...

As I say, in have over the last few years seen this city a lot, I have explored, walked, photographed - and yet this visit - I am seeing numbers of homeless four, five, six times anything I have seen before.  And they roam the streets (they literally have no homes), they rummage in the bins for food, they clutch the shadows and dark for the chance to grab some sleep.

But the way the shadows move is disconcerting.  Not because of the surprise when people emerge from those shadows, but in the scale of what has happened.  This city, bright and lit with optimism is struggling with a massive surge in the number of people seeking a different life, but with few options in front of them.  And the news here is dominated with the stark realisation that Europe is shutting her borders.  And this raises the very simple question - what do you do when the shadows move?