Push-backs on the Balkan Route

Push-backs on the Balkan Route

The illegal push-backs that are taking place on the Balkan route are largely undocumented in the mass media. With enough pressure Michelle believes we could stop illegal push-backs and make peoples passage easier.

By Michelle

(Photograph of the camp in Belgrade by Gastiaso Photography)

“A push-back occurs when you are expelled from a country without having the possibility to explain your personal circumstances and without the possibility to claim asylum. Push-backs are illegal and prohibited under international human rights law. These expulsions can take different forms. It can happen that you are returned to a state border to the country you came from without having the possibility to claim asylum.

“It can also happen that you have stayed in a country for a while and are later on expelled to the country you travelled through earlier, without any legal procedure”.

There is a lot more information here… https://live.w2eu.info/en/push-backs-and-expulsions/

There are a lot of illegal push-backs and violence towards people from the authorities on the the Balkan route.

“A lot of people have already documented these rights abuses from different borders along the Balkan route: from Bulgaria to Turkey, from Macedonia to Greece, from Serbia to Macedonia, from Serbia to Bulgaria, from Croatia to Serbia, from Croatia to Bosnia, from Hungary to Serbia, as well as from Slovenia to Croatia.”

Both quotes are from ‘Live-Feed of Welcome to Europe: Information for refugees travelling from Greece to Northern Europe.’

One friend told me he was at an official refugee camp in Serbia, and one night a government bus came and took 50 of them to the border with no warning and pushed them back illegally to  Macedonia. This is one of the reasons many people are afraid to stay in official camps on Serbia and choose to live in unofficial camps in Belgrade, many of who are left to sleep out in the open at temperatures reaching -15C.
Other reasons people don’t stay in official camps is that there is no educational resources for children, some are closed camps with no access in or out, bad food, no access to local shops or community (one that houses 1000 people is next to a motorway petrol station) and violence from guards.Many people are reaching Croatia and Hungary and are not allowed their legal rights under Article 19 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and Art 4 Prot 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to seek asylum. They are instead set on by police dogs, stripped naked in the snow and often forced to walk back to the country they came from with no shoes.

Some of the injuries received by people going to the border. Photographs by No Borders Serbia

Men are regularly coming back to Belgrade with serious injuries and find it hard to access the right medical treatment, and the poor living conditions in Belgrade often make it hard for people to recover. Also many people are arriving in Serbia from camps in Bulgaria where violence and border violence is even worse. A teenage boy arrived with his friends from an official camp on Bulgaria paralysed and another blind.People are being forced to travel across borders illegally, as the once more relaxed border between Serbia and Hungary into Europe now only lets ten people, according to official figures, pass legally every day here, https://live.w2eu.info/en/hungary/.

You are not allowed any legal assistance for your asylum application once you enter the transit zone into Hungary, men are held for up to 28 day in a shipping container and often sent back. Even if people apply for asylum in Serbia they might get pushed back illegally so people are being forced into more dangerous illegal routes. One friend around 17-years-old was crossing the border last week and the ice on the river cracked, the boy fell in and died. This journey is killing people.It is also important to mention the positives of this story and the amazing people I have met. There is true spirit, braveness and kindness in this situation. Older boys are looking after unaccompanied minors like big brothers, people are active and finding places to live, ways to cook, heat and wash and they share this. And they are mostly positive and kind. They are often well educated and have exciting plans for a better life than what they are leaving, none of which mention the benefit system or free health care as their reason to travel.

Their stories and journeys are all different and very important and we can learn a lot from them. It is important for us to not to offer the hand of charity and pity but instead to work in solidarity together to open the borders that are killing people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Please answer this (to remove spam) *