Closed Balkan route means lucrative times for human traffickers

More than 7000 refugees and migrants have been stranded in Serbia since neighbouring countries closed their borders. Many are spending what money they have left on people smugglers.

Smugglers are currently offering to take people a short distance to the Hungarian or Croatian border, a service that costs between 200 and 300 euro ($214-321). They’ve also got wire cutters for the Hungarian border fence. Hundreds of people a day try to leave Serbia in this way, desperate to make it onto EU soil. Most of them are immediately picked up by police. Many are robbed, humiliated or beaten before being sent back to Serbia, according to the dozens of refugees DW reporters have spoken with in recent days.

Shirsad Safi is waiting for a warm meal in Belgrade’s “Info-Park” refugee center. The 17-year-old Afghan tells the story of his short trip to Hungary. “When we were picked up, the police forced us to sit barefoot in the snow for six hours. There were children in my group. They poured cold water on us.” He shows us the holes in his pants and the wounds on his legs – courtesy of the police dog, he says.

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