2015 Invasion of Europe: The Balkan Route. Part 1


September 7, 2015

Darya Aslamova

Komsomolskaya Pravda

Translated by Kristina Rus

Apocalypse in the Old World:

Europe overwhelmed by hordes of voracious migrants

Special correspondent of “Komsomolskaya Pravda” Darya ASLAMOVA visited several European countries, where tens of thousands of people from Africa and the Middle East arrive daily. But these are not the classic refugees. They feel at home in a new place and despise the locals who help them, asking for more benefits.

The small town of Kanjiža is on Serbian-Hungarian border. Every morning at six the bells of the Church of Peter and Paul begin their sad song. They cry so desperate until seven in the morning that sleep is impossible. I go to the window and pull the curtain. The square in front of the hotel is empty. THEY left. Only the “guards” remain — a few dark-skinned young men sleeping on the grass under the trees.

But here’s the first intercity bus stopping at the Central stop, releasing a fresh batch of refugees. Basically, it’s men under 30 years old in jeans and t-shirts. But there are also women in hijabs with young children. Despite the debilitating heat, the women are wrapped in dark wool clothes. Some even wear black gloves. All these people are very confident and are completely indifferent to the charm of the historic Christian town. At nine o’clock cafe “Venice” opens at the corner where the refugees go to charge their brand-new iPhones and laptops, use the restroom or even wash hair in the sink.

The immigrants camp at the Central square in Kanizha

In the evening in the centre of Kanizha there is no room for an apple to fall. Hundreds of people have settled in a temporary camp on two Central squares. According to conservative estimates, there are about two thousand people. They sit on the grass, eat, drink, and look with contempt on city cleaners who have to pick up after them plastic bags, bottles, cigarette butts, food leftovers. Video

The group of refugees is preparing for illegal crossing of the Hungarian border through the woods

Night descends. The darkness is the signal. People divide into groups of 30-50 people. In each of them — their own leader. By eleven at night the groups on foot walk to the Serbian-Hungarian border. Residents silently watch from the windows how through quiet, seemingly dead town move the black shadows of immigrants.

“They walk on foot out of the city, and then they get picked up by Gypsy mobsters on buses, – says the taxi driver Victor. — We are not allowed to drive illegals. Police already arrested five cars from our fleet of taxis. But Gypsies do what they want. They are the main guides of the refugees on the Balkan route. Gypsies deliver refugees almost to the border, and then guide them through the woods to Hungary through trails only they know. It all started in January. People began to arrive organized, every day. And the flow grows and grows. Frankly, we are scared. What will become of us?”

The great migration of peoples

In 2015 Europe exploded. What started as a thin trickle of immigration, suddenly turned into a powerful human wave ready to sweep away the cozy, clean Europe. To the two existing routes: via Gibraltar to Spain and the Mediterranean sea to Lampedusa — a new, convenient and safe Balkan route was added. First from Turkish Izmir to Greek Islands (the first victim was the famous island of Lesbos. The Greeks told me that the Turks are helping the immigrants. The rumor is that Turkey is deliberately sponsoring refugees and literally pushes them out into international waters.) Then Athens, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, and then the flow is split into two parts — Austria and Germany or Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Even England,which with such a sense of superiority bombarded the unfortunate Libya, suddenly found that insularity does not save it from the invasion. The tunnel under the English channel is stormed daily by the embittered refugees. And in Germany, the authorities had to resort to the help of the army, which provided tents for immigrants and protection from angry locals.

From January to July only along the Balkan route passed one hundred thousand people. Sociologists predict that by the end of the year their number will increase to 250 thousand. And next year promises disaster.

I have worked a lot in the “hot spots” and in my time saw a huge number of refugees. Weeping women in house clothes and slippers on bare feet, filthy children in rags, men with stony faces, angry from their own helplessness. They were grateful for the bottle of water, piece of bread, a small monetary aid. THESE refugees astonished me with their external well-being and ability to quickly set their own rules.

Refugees in Belgrade

Park in Belgrade near the bus station looks like the many parks in many cities of Europe. Men washing in fountains, whole families sleeping on the grass. As soon as I walk to the park, a group of guys rushes to me. “You can’t film here,” says one of them in decent English, pointing to my camera. “Oh really?! — I exclaim and make a stand – The park is a public place, and I’m a journalist and doing my job”. “Our women are here!” “So what? Your women are in hijabs and are covered from head to toe. If they don’t like local customs, they can go back. Do you know that Belgrade is the capital of the Orthodox Christian state? And women walk here with open faces? How many hours have you been in Belgrade?” “Three days,” answered my bewildered opponent. “And already setting your own rules? This is not your land”. 

Here we both lower the tone and make a truce. My new friend’s name is Khalid, he is from Damascus, he is 21 years old. “I am a real Syrian — he says proudly. — Not like all of them…” He gestures in contempt to the people occupying the square. “And why is it important?” – I am surprised. “Everyone here lies that they are from Syria. Just, Syria is now fashionable. It’s in all the newspapers. Nobody cares about the refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Tunisia. Now even the Afghans call themselves Syrians.”

Darya Aslamova with immigrants. These young Syrians dream to get to Germany, because there everything is “free”

Khalid and his companions fled Syria, so they wouldn’t be drafted into the army.

“Why would I want to fight for Assad? Better I go to Germany”. “Why you didn’t ask for asylum in Greece, Macedonia, or at least here in Serbia?” “They are all dirt poor countries, – contemptuously smirks Khalid. — I didn’t even know that Europe is so poor. We were much richer in Syria before the war. Only for the road to Belgrade I paid the carriers and guides $3,000. And to Germany I will have to pay fifteen hundred. I have the money. I can pay for a five-star hotel in Belgrade, but I’m not allowed in because the local authorities give us only 72 hours to stay in the country. And my registration ran out today. Even here in the park, I pay for a shower and a toilet. But then in Germany everything will be free: education, benefits, housing for immigrants. It’s great! I want to apply to Economics school. As soon as I get settled, I’ll bring my whole family there: two brothers, father, mother, grandmother and three sisters.”

Refugee girls in Belgrade

Five pretty young women in hijabs settled on a bench in the shade under a spreading tree, guarded by two ferocious men. “Salam alaikum”, — I greet them. “Hello” — they answer together. One of them named Aisha takes on the role of the interpreter. With difficulty choosing English words, she explains that they are Syrians from Aleppo and are going with the whole family to Germany. They have been on the road for ten days. In Germany they have no one, but they heard that they accept everyone. They have money. The journey will cost the whole family a tidy sum of more than 20 thousand dollars. Their mother has diabetes, but they believe that the Germans are obliged to treat her for free. Married Betul shows me her scarred legs. “Night before last we crossed the Macedonian border through the woods, she explains. — You are beautiful because you have white skin. I was beautiful before I got burned by the sun. Here, look.” Betul rolls her sleeve and shows the line between the tanned and white skin. “I will live in Europe and will once again be white. In the North there is less sun”.

Refugees in Belgrade do not look like the Syrian refugees, whom I saw in Lebanon. There were the tragic stories, people who had lost everything and were slowly dying under a cruel sun in crowded camps, which nobody cared about. Those who made it to Europe are the elite. With money and plans.

Part 2

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