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Serbia: Solidarity with refugees

Wednesday 21 February 2018, by siawi3

Source: Women In Black, Belgrade

Report on the visit to refugees in Šid on February 12th, 2018

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 17:43:05 +0100

On February 12th, 2018, four activists of Women in Black visited refugees in Sid. We have previously collected solidarity assistance in the form of groceries, as well as caps, scarves, gloves and other knitted things, which were done by activists from the region.

Upon arriving in Sid, we went to friends from the No Name Kitchen Collective (NNK), and give them groceries. NNK assists refugees by supplying them with groceries, dishes, and gas on a daily basis. The police do not allow the NNK to make food.

After that, we headed to the “squat”, abandoned objects of the company “Grafosrem”, at the entrance to Sid from the highway direction.

We noticed a greater number of refugees than previous times. At the time of the dinner there were over 100 refugees. The number constantly varies, and the police do not allow it to be more than 150 people, in that case they are making raids, and the refugees who are captured are sent to camp in Presevo.

In conversation with refugees, we heard shocking stories about surviving winter, without a roof over their heads. Police do not allow the refugees to sleep in a “squat,” although “squat” neither offer great protection from the winter itself, as the police also do not allow any works of larger scale to be performed on the abandoned facility, which would improve the conditions. In the “squat” there is a wood stove, there are also several bulbs and the ability to charge mobile phones. The police did not allow windows to be repaired and closed so it is not possible to better and permanently heat the rooms.

Refugees sleep in the surrounding fields and forests, as they say “in the jungle”. One of the refugees told us that in two years, since he came to Serbia, he had tried to cross the border over 60 times, but he was always returned. The other told us about the life in the “jungle”, about the nightly attacks of the police ... he was arrested twice and returned to Presevo. The problem of returning to Presevo Camp is that this camp and the Presevo are under tight security measures by police , so it is very hard to leave Presevo, except with the assistance of traffickers and the price for the return to Belgrade or Sid is EUR 200 per person.

We met a 15-year-old refugee, who told us that the security in the Krnjaca Camp, beaten him and kicked him out of the camp, and they also taken away and destroyed his refugee ID card, which prevented him from exercising his rights. Although he has health problems, he can not contact a doctor because he does not have the ID.

In Sid, we also met with a large group of activists from Slovenia who volunteered in Sid. In conversation with them, we exchanged informations and impressions.

Dragana, Violeta, Stasa, Mirko

Women in Black, Belgrade