[Serbia] Blocked in the Balkans: the refugees that Europe won't allow in

08 Aug 2017

The Guardian follows the life of the Faqirzada family - two parents and three teenage children - to recount the current situation of the refugees who were denied access to the EU are now living in Serbia - 7,600, according UNHCR. 

A school in Belgrade has opened its doors to 25 refugee children, in the famework of a pilot scheme. They attend the morning classes together with Serbian children, but they also have their own Serbian language classes.

The article reports the views of the school teachers: they talk about the traumas the refugee children carry with them, their relationship with the unaccomapanied children, the transition from their previous school systems to the Serbian one, their motivation: "They are more motivated than any students I have worked with". 

The article reports further observation regarding the interrelationships between the Serbian and the refugee children: 'Andjela Usljebrka is a Serbian language teacher at another pilot scheme school. Her classroom invites high-achieving Serbian students to help teach the refugees. Speaking English bridges the two groups; but as refugees learn Serbian, the Serbian children have begun to learn bits of Afghan languages as well'. 

The article reports that the Serbian government is not focusing only on education: it is also expanding the legal rights of asylum seekers to work in Serbia - but many 'do not have a diploma, they do not know the Serbian language, and the priority in [the Serbian] legal market are Serbians'. 

Every weekday, five people are allowed to enter the EU via Hungary legally. A refugee reports that his family, who made it to Hungary, is 'in a 24-hour closed camp'. "They are not free like we are here.”.


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