19 February 2016

In the early hours of Wednesday 17 February, 217 asylum seekers were returned from Slovenia, through Croatia and finally to Serbia.  The group, as stated by UNHCR Serbia,  includes a significant number of refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria (SIA), were rejected on the Slovenian border after “failing” the nationality test. The reasons why they were sent back are not clear, but they are now waiting for the next steps” said a UNHCR Protection Officer.

They were received at the Slavonski Brod camp, where they stayed for two days before being transferred to Serbia on a train. ECRE’s member, the Danish Refugee Council reported that it seems that the authorities told the refugees that they were being sent back to Slovenia but instead the train left in  the opposite direction. Tensions broke out when the asylum seekers realized they were in Serbia and would ultimately be transferred further south to FYROM. Refugees were accommodated at the Šid Refugee Aid Point, where they also received legal information. A few people decided to stay, while the others left the station, probably with the plan to get back to Croatia by another route.

Info Serbia reports that on Wednesday, the Serbian Minister of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy Aleksandar Vulin stated “migrants who were sent back from Croatia can either seek asylum in Serbia or be returned to the country from which they entered our territory, and if they don’t accept that, they will be treated as illegal migrants”.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 19 February 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.