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Hundreds of migrants march to Hungary border in protest at closure

Published 22/07/2016

A group of migrants rest at the road-side on the outskirts of Belgrade, Serbia (AP)
A group of migrants rest at the road-side on the outskirts of Belgrade, Serbia (AP)

Hundreds of migrants have set off on foot towards Serbia's border with Hungary to protest against Hungary's decision to keep its border closed for most people trying to reach the European Union after fleeing war and poverty.

Migrants held makeshift banners reading "Hungary Open Borders" or "No Borders, No Fence" as they marched along a road leading north from Belgrade.

Several police cars drove slowly by the marchers, who were carrying bags and blankets. Most migrants appeared to be young men who stand little chance of entering Hungary or other EU nations.

"We have no money, we walk," shouted one.

Hungary has recently strengthened anti-migrant controls on its southern border with Serbia, letting in only about 30 people a day, mostly families with small children.

This has left a few thousand people stuck in Serbia, with hundreds camping along the border without basic facilities.

Faced with a pile-up of refugees, Serbian authorities have announced stricter, joint army and police border controls with Bulgaria and Macedonia, where migrants mostly enter the country.

Dozens of migrants were lying on blankets in a park in Belgrade, unsure of what to do next. Some of them have already tried to reach Hungary, but were pushed back by authorities there.

"I tried three times to go to Hungary, but it is closed," complained Ajmal Azizi, a 20-year-old from Afghanistan, who says he wants to join family members already in Germany.

Many migrants have turned to human smugglers to help them cross the border. Irena Vari, an aid worker helping migrants in Belgrade, said many have been in the Serbian capital for weeks, even months now.

She said: "They are now in such a position that they are left with smugglers. The majority have sold everything and spent everything and they are stuck here."


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