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Serbian Authorities’ Intervention Ends Migrant Camping at Hungarian Border

Ábrahám Vass 2020.02.07.

Yesterday, a group of refugees and migrants set off from Serbia and reached Hungary’s southern border at Tompa-Kelebija to go on to Western Europe. The peaceful crowd, following hours of stalemate, was transported away by Serbian authorities.

The group, consisting mostly of Syrians and Afghans, was planning to head to the border from Szabadka (Subotica). As this had long been known, the Hungarian police closed that border in the daytime and lined up on the Hungarian side. According to some of the participants, later confirmed by Serbian defense minister Aleksandar Vulin, the march was organized through social media groups.

photo by Edvárd Molnár/MTI

During the march, the Serbian police did not intervene while demonstrators, with children among them, carried banners stating: “our children deserve better,” “let us get through in peace,” “we are refugees, not criminals.”

On the spot, Vulin commented that he doesn’t want the refugees to ruin the “good neighborly relations” between Serbia and Hungary. He claimed that some groups of refugees and migrants in Serbia are being misled by fake footage and rumors about opening the Hungarian border. According to him, illegal immigrants should stay in the reception centers and should be grateful to Serbia for welcoming them. He also said that certain Middle-Eastern people don’t want to be mixed in the shelters because of ethnic conflicts.

photo by Edvárd Molnár/MTI

Liberal HVG put the total number of people around 300, while pro-government public channel M1’s on-site correspondent claimed that the number of refugees and migrants might have peaked at around 400-500. According to reports, the refugees and migrants were peaceful throughout, and the group’s organizers told them that they wouldn’t tolerate “vandalism.” The group’s goal was to cross the border peacefully before moving on towards inner Europe. One person told M1 that they did not intend to stay in Hungary.

Photo by Zoltán Balogh/MTI

While most of them were visibly prepared to spend the night there, according to Index, about 15-20 buses arrived together with numerous Serbian police at around 1 in the morning, who soon began to direct people onto the vehicles.

Photo by Zoltán Balogh/MTI

According to local Pannon RTV’s report, none of them resisted and they followed the instructions peacefully. Buses eventually left the border area by two o’clock, and at around 7 in the morning, the border crossing’s operation resumed.

Featured photo by Edvárd Molnár/MTI