Another refugee life lost on EU's borders

In the night between February 2 and 3, Afghani national Rahmat Ullah Hanife (22) drowned in the Tisa River on the Serbian-Hungarian border.

Source: Info Park
An Afghan refugee youth stands at the doorway of an old train carriage in Belgrade (Tanjug/AP, illustration purposes)
An Afghan refugee youth stands at the doorway of an old train carriage in Belgrade (Tanjug/AP, illustration purposes)

This was announced on Monday by Info Park - a refugee support network jointly launched by Fund B92 and Trag Foundation in Serbia.

According to Info Park, Rahmat Ullah tried to cross the frozen river with the group of 15 refugees and migrants who were organized by a smuggler from Pakistan, charging 2,000 EUR each for this extremely risky attempt to reach the European Union.

The group also included six minors, aged 10-17. The smuggler divided them into groups and lead them to the river where he encouraged them to walk across ice towards village Horgos in Hungary. Rahmat Ullah was second in line when the ice broke under their feet.

He fell into the water alongside the young man who was walking in front and who eventually managed to come ashore.

Rahmat Ullah did not know how to swim and failed to reach the branch that the young man tried to put forward. He was swiftly dragged under water by a strong, cold river current. Seeing his body disappear, the smuggler ordered everyone to return to the shore and call the police with first patrols arriving only a few hours later.

The group returned to Belgrade. Young man who survived the accident and crossed into Hungary was arrested by the Hungarian police and pushed back to Serbia the next day.

In a statement given to Info Park, the returnees said that the smuggler has since disappeared. The body of Rahmat Ullah Hanife remains missing. Hungarian police conducted a comprehensive search mission that was hampered by the remaining icebergs on Tisa River.

The entire group belonged to the Belgrade migrant community that has spent previous several months in Serbia. Rahmat Ullah was a prominent figure known to humanitarian workers active in the barracks situated behind the Belgrade Bus Station.

This tragic event confirms that the movement of large groups towards the northern border is increasing and that the number of smugglers in this area as well as the prices for their services are both on the rise. This clearly explains a recent decrease in number of migrants that are situated in downtown Belgrade, going from 2,000 in early January to around 1,000 today.

On the other hand, the border belt encompassing Bajmok, Subotica, Martinos and Hungarian border is busy as ever, both on well-known and secret locations, controlled by smugglers. Info Park sources estimate a presence of 500-600 refugees and migrants in this region, residing outside of the legal
transit centers in Subotica and Sombor. When this is added to the number of refugees and migrants in Obrenovac and other camps, the number of persons identified in Belgrade barracks in early January becomes complete.

The current refugee and migrant dynamics in Serbia is about to accelerate again, with more and more people attempting to enter EU despite closed borders. It is not difficult to imagine that the arrival of spring and warmer temperatures will result in more tragedies, coming as a consequence
of the hopeless, dead-end situation that both Serbia and the EU are yet to clearly address.

Society

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