Category: Serbia
Hits: 2166

I seem to be putting my emotions and nerves through a iron mangle this week - and I'm only on my third day here...

EYesterday I went down the the Bus Station here in Belgrade - it is not far from the city centre, fairly close to the Parliament and next to the main train station. Last time I was here in Serbia I went there to sit and relax and write a few notes whilst I waited for my bus to Srem.


Now the park has changed beyond belief: it was packed with refugees. In addition there were police, an ambulance, some medical staff and some people from an NGO handing out crucial supplies. But what struck me most was the demographics - mainly young men aged between 18-35, some women (not many) and those who there are have very young children, and then some boys - quite literally early teenagers. What is clear is that these refugees are not travelling alone, but neither are they travelling with their families as I would understand it.

Some are sibling, some cousins, but most are clustered in groups of people whom they have met, coalesced with and have a shared trauma of travel or as they see it - escape.

I spoke to a few people - they have fled, their families have paid for them to get out, they have begged, stolen, run, swam, hidden in cars, got on buses and lorries - done everything to get away. There was no menace, no threat, I felt emotion, but not fear. But they are hungry, uncertain, worried - but also determined to make a life. It is also clear that they don't know who to trust if anyone.

Serbia has over 500,000 refugees here - Hungary has closed the border and Croatia and Slovenia have limited access... This surely is the wrong response.

Serbia has a troubled history, and is massively tainted in history (thanks there largely to the Austro-Hungarian Empire), but leaving it to its own devices will not help. These are the foothills and mountains of Europe. There are young people, boys and children in need to help. What precisely are we waiting for?

Don't belief me? Come to Belgrade, it's a direct flight from London and walk down to the bus station... ...