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‘Serbia ready to accept migrants’

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AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: The Serbia government has announced that the country will accept the migrants including Afghans even though it is not an EU member.

Serbian officials have said the country is ready to accept migrants as per eventual European Union (EU) quotas, even though it is not an EU member, according to a Reuters report.

Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia continue to defy EU-imposed quotas on migrants.

Hungary even went as far as to build a 155-kilometer long double fence wall along the border with Serbia to stem the illegal flow of migrants. As a result, thousands of those trying to reach Western Europe are stuck in Serbia, with little possibility of leaving, Reuters reported.

Less than 10 kilometers from the Belgrade city center, a refugee camp in the Krnjaca neighborhood has been hosting hundreds of people for years now.

The refugees all come from the non-European countries, seeking a better life and future.

Zakiullah Shahzad a 17 year-old Afghan is one of them. More than two years ago, together with his sister Lida, he left Afghanistan, hoping to settle in Austria.

But both of them have been stuck here for the last 14 months after traveling through several countries and paying smugglers thousands of US dollars. The chances of them reaching Austria are slim at best.

So Shahzad decided to settle down in Serbia instead, Reuters reported.

“It is better than the other countries. I’ve decided to live here. It’s a good country, good government, good rules and good people here. So, I decided to live here. Look, I have everything here. Good room, good people, good migrants and it’s good for me,” said Shahzad.

According to Reuters, Shahzad is one of the 618,000 migrants who have requested asylum protection in Serbia since 2015, as they crossed the country to head west.

But most of them have already moved on to other EU countries, and only 4,000 of the applicants are currently in Serbia.

Because refugees applied for asylum in Serbia, the opposition claims there’s a possibility of hundreds of thousands of them returning, if the EU decides to expel them.

“I think that credible doubts exist — that in one moment in time, Serbia may serve to the EU as one big center for asylum seekers. We truly are in a bad situation — with the constant blackmails from Brussels that we need to do one thing or another in order to proceed with our EU integration process. One of it is the idea that ‘excess’ migrants whom the EU doesn’t want to accept, should permanently settle here in Serbia,” said Bosko Obradovic, a member of Parliament of the Serbian Movement Dveri.

However, Serbian Internal Affairs Minister Nebojsa Stefanovoc said Serbia is ready to accept migrants as per eventual EU quotas, even though it is not an EU member, Reuters reported.

“If the EU decides that the migrants have to be distributed according to EU quotas, Serbia is of course ready to participate in that. We are not just ready to participate in the future — we are participating in it right now. We already have 4,000 migrants on our territory and we are providing them with all the humane treatment which one country can deliver for migrants and refugees,” he said.