A recent report by the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) has outlined systematic violence towards migrants travelling along the Balkan Route to western Europe.
The report includes 18 testimonies of border pushbacks, impacting a total of 172 people across the Balkans and Greece. It also includes intelligence from grassroots organisations, reporting on trends of systematic violence involving foreign officers mainly from Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia in pushbacks along the Serbian-Hungarian border, pushbacks from Bosnia Herzegovina to Serbia.
The document also reports an increase in pushbacks from Croatia to Bosnia Herzegovina, as well as reports of individuals drowning while crossing rivers in Bosnia Herzegovina.
An additional joint report published by Medical Volunteers, Collective Aid and Construct Solidarity outlines an increase of violence and repression along the Hungarian and Romanian border.
The report also notes enhanced cooperation between Serbia and Hungary to facilitate pushbacks, “control migration,” as well as implement “routine evictions of informal settlements which often leaves shelter destroyed, belongings stolen, and people forcibly relocated to camps.”
At the same time, violence against migrants has purportedly become normalised in Serbia, due in part to “heightening of the Hungarian-Serbian border fence and the abolition of visa-free regime for certain countries from which many displaced people come from are only the beginning of Serbia’s commitment to appease the EU in order to gain EU membership.”
Frach Collective has published testimony of migrants who survived physical violence at the Hungarian border along the Balkan Route.
“During pushbacks, police use violence, including beatings and dog attacks, or leave people in the cold for hours”, the organisation says.
“Police took essential medication, like insulin, from [migrants] during pushbacks,” it continued.
At the same time, the Council of the EU has concluded an agreement on joint cooperation between North Macedonia and Frontex amid an ongoing expansion of the agency’s on-the-ground presence in third countries along migratory routes. The agreement will allow Frontex to provide operational support on the “border management” of North Macedonia.
“As of 1st April, Frontex will be able to assist North Macedonia in its efforts to manage migratory flows, counter illegal immigration, and tackle cross-border crime”, reads a press release by the Council of EU states.
“Reinforcing controls along North Macedonia’s borders will contribute to further enhancing security at the EU’s external borders,” it continues.
On 18 February, 18 Afghan migrants and refugees were found dead inside an abandoned truck in Bulgaria near the capital Sofia. The victims died from suffocation.
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