Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights – YUCOM
Human Rights House
KnezaMilosa 4, 11103 Belgrade, Serbia
Project Progress and Financial Report – No 1.
Date of the visit: 09/12/2015
Place of the visit: Belgrade, Republic of Serbia
(Parks around the Main bus station in Belgrade and Mixer House)
Project: “Aid to refugees and migrants – from legal aid to conditions assessment”
Persons responsible for reporting: Ana Jankovic Jovanovic and Momcilo Zivadinovic
On December 9th 2015 a team consisting of Momcilo Zivadinovic and Ana J. Jovanovic, accompanied by a translator for Farsi conducted a visit of the parts of Belgrade where the greatest number of refugees are staying. We visited the parks around the Belgrade bus station and the Miksaliste Aid Center.
We noticed a decrease in the number of present refugees. According to the information we received the reason for this is the introduction of regular lines of transport for refugees from Belgrade to Sid, which stands out as a novelty when compared to the practices in effect up to date.
In the park next to the bus platforms a container of the Red Cross activists can be found, along with a stand of the info center for refugees/migrants. The people from the Red Cross and Info center are on site every day, providing basic information to refugees/migrants who ask for their aid. Most refugees/migrants are redirected towards the Miksaliste Aid Center, where they can receive food, water, clothes and footwear.
About ten refugees were present at each of the three places we visited, the park in front of the Faculty of Economics, the park by the arrival platforms and the Miksaliste Aid Center. We conducted interviews with seven of them, all from Afghanistan. All the respondents were young males. The education structure among them was diverse, ranging from those with no formal education to those who finished high school. All the people we talked with were Muslims, some of whom were Sunnis. There weren’t families present at any of those places, neither were women and small children.
On their way towards Serbia they traveled through Iran, Turkey and Bulgaria. All respondents save one wished to continue their journey towards their desired destination, most often this is either Italy or Germany. One respondent expressed his wish to stay in Serbia because, in his own words, if he continues on further they would just return him to Serbia. They traveled by bus, car, train and they hiked a part of the way. Based on what we heard their transport to Serbia cost them about 3.000,00 USD and they estimate that they will spend up to 7.000,00 USD before they reach Italy or Germany.
Vulnerable groups / victims of torture
Several of the refugees/migrants we talked to complained about police brutality in Bulgaria and some were even jailed in Bulgaria. Some of them stated they weren’t personally subjected to torture but that they have witnessed beatings of others, on whom they also unleashed dogs in some cases. They were released from jail after twelve days. All the respondents said that in their country of origin, Afghanistan, they never had trouble with the state police but exclusively with the Taliban and ISIS.