Death of Refugees in Transit


Lifeless bodies of 71 people were found on Thursday afternoon in a refrigerated truck parked along a highway in Austria.

According to the Austrian authorities, of the victims included  59 men, eight women and four children. The precise cause of death will only be known in several days, but suffocation is the probable hypothesis.

The same day, a vessel carrying 400 people was wrecked off in Zuwara, Libya: hundreds of them were killed.

The vehicle with the Hungarian registration had left Budapest, the Hungarian capital, on Wednesday morning. When found, there were decaying body fluids and authorities had to move it to be able to extract the bodies. The migrants were apparently dead for some time.

Even experienced police officers appeared shaken, describing the scene as that of a “shocking crime.” The Austrian and Hungarian police opened a joint investigation and currently three people are in custody.

For months, the migration crisis continues to worsen: many refugees fleeing war in Syria, attempt passage through the Mediterranean, mainly from the Libyan coast to Italy, but the flow of people using the Balkan passageway is statistically important.

These refugees enter Greece through Turkey, usually by boat to islands like Kos and Chios. Then they have to reach the border with Macedonia, cross this country, reach Serbia, and finally Hungary, a gateway to the Schengen area.

Every day thousands of people are waiting to move from Greece to Macedonia. Thousands of camps reside on the Macedo-Serbian border between Tabanovce, Lojane (Macedonia) and Miratovac (Serbia).

Overwhelmed by the influx, Greek authorities let them through while those of Macedonia have a sawtooth policy: opening and closing their border. Since June, the refugees who manage to enter this country can cross it by special trains.

In Serbia as well, refugees can obtain a temporary residence permit for 72 hours – enough  time to cross the country. However, they may have to wait days to get the first sesame: a camp was set up in Preševoe, a small town within ten kilometers from the border.

Thousands of people crowd the squares every day in Belgrade turned into temporary camps, then in the “jungle” of Subotica, close to the Hungarian border, an old disposal waste in ruins. Others enter Kanjiža, another small border town, where a camp was also established.

To illegally cross the Hungarian border, the smugglers ask in up to 1500 euros per adult and 1000 euros for a child, but many venture out and try to find their way using smartphones.

The ultra-conservative Hungarian government decided to build a fence wall along the 172 kilometer border with Serbia, which should theoretically be completed by now.

This decision was criticized by the EU, yet no concrete result was found. The wall will not stop the flow; it will only have two consequences: an inflation rate of smuggling and the development of new alternative routes.

Bosnia, Herzegovina and Croatia are already exposed to becoming new transit countries in the coming days.

Since June, around 3000 people are estimated to cross Macedonia and Serbia each day, and one migrant dies every two days in Europe while on the road searching for a host country.

Should migration be taken for a crime? Do many people leave their countries because they hate their motherland or are they are forced to leave for security reasons, which most of the times impact on economic situation?

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