Migrants and refugees in Belgrade evicted to camps
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In early May volunteer group No Name Kitchen warned of the impending eviction of over 1,000 migrants and refugees living in disused buildings in Belgrade, who were recently removed by the government to camps, in some cases overcrowded and with poor sanitary conditions.
People were evicted in order to make way for a waterfront gentrification project that has been cause of mass protests in Belgrade in recent years.
Video: Refugees in Serbia 'sprayed with insecticide' before forceful eviction (The Independent, link) Migrants relocated from central parts of Belgrade and "Migrant dwellings in central Belgrade posed health risk" (b92, links): "The transfer of migrants from central Belgrade to reception centers will increase safety of the capital's residents." AFTER THE EVICTION, THE CAMPS ARRIVE ... (No Name Kitchen, Facebook): a video showing the demolition of the abandoned barracks in Belgrade and photos from some of the camps to which people were moved. Photos from before the eviction show the dire conditions in which people were living: Stuck at Belgrade Station: Photos show deplorable conditions migrants and refugees are left living in (The Washington Post, link)
On the Belgrade Waterfront project:
- The Fight Against the Belgrade Waterfront Project [Interview with Dobrica Veselinovic] (Political Critique, link): "Investors from the United Arab Emirates are taking great interest in a project to privatize the Belgrade Waterfront. Protests have manifested in opposition, gathering large number of Serbian citizens together."
- Controversy surrounds Belgrade Waterfront development (BBC News, link)
Facebook post (link) from No Name Kitchen, 8 May 2017:
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT SERBIA
Dear Facebook friends, given the silence kept by the media, we need to spread the bad news happening in the barracks in Belgrade.
Some days ago, the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration (highest governmental agency for refugees in Serbia) informed us of the eviction and demolition happening in 20 days of the more than 1000 people living the abandoned barracks behind the train station. Those living in the parking behind the bus station - roughly 500 people - will also be evicted. Effectively, this means no one can be in Serbia without officially seeking asylum.
The Commissariat gathered independent volunteers and residents to several meetings, showing an outrageous racism (relating migration with crime) and colonial paternalism (refusing to listen to the opinion and doubts of the refugees themselves).
Refugees are being forced to join the Serbian asylum system and relocated to remote camps. In less than 20 days, the barracks - home to over 1500 people for the last months - will be demolished in favor of the Belgrade Waterfront gentrification project, funded by Emirati petrodollars.
The anxiety and uncertainty of the residents of the barracks could not be any greater. Since yesterday, buses are being loaded with people who, with no other choice, are being taken to mass refugee camps. Even a boy told us last night that, after being taken to the police station, he was forced to blindly sign the asylum request. Some prefer to stay in the barracks, asking us independent volunteers what to do.
But no. We have no answer. Both the Serbian government and our governments in Europe refuse to listen to the refugees, who have been trapped since the Balkan Route was closed, already more than a year ago.
Serbia (which no one talks about) is becoming a impenetrable wall denying migrants their fundamental right of freedom of movement. They are simply requesting international protection to get the dignified life that has been taken away from them. Meanwhile, the European Union is working again on outsourcing its borders. Proof of this is the latest news from FRONTEX, which is now allowed to deploy troops on the borders of Macedonia and Serbia, with complete immunity to act outside the laws of these countries, according to Statewatch.*
These days are being frantic. No Name Kitchen will keep working every night while listening to the residents of the barracks, with whom we have been working hand in hand during all these past months. Please, we ask you to spread this situation. Lets be the channel of the despair that is being experienced in Belgrade and create a wave of solidarity that takes down the borders of the European Fortress.
* The post refers to this article: Deploying armed Frontex teams on the 'Balkan Route': agreements with Serbia and Macedonia on the way (Statewatch News Online, 1 May 2017): which highlights the moves towards negotiations with Serbia and Macedonia.
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