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I’d Rather Be Killed by Taliban Than Living Like This In Serbia

A Confession of Afghans accommodated in the Asylum Center

18 May 2009 Source: Blic Author: Slobodan Pajić

Two years ago I Left Afghanistan and I’ve been in Serbia for 50 days. I wanted to go to Norway, Sweden or England and to continue school there. Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky enough. I was arrested by the Serbian police and I ended up here – says 20-year old Ranshbar, one of 42 illegal migrants who are currently placed in the Asylum Center in Banja Koviljača.

Ranshbar says that he used to study law in Ahghanistan and that he enrolled the second year.

– My father was a communist. He didn’t agreed either with Taliban or with new government, and thus, because of the regime, I had to run away. It would be difficult for me to adapt to life in Serbia. If I had to spend the rest of my life the way it is now, I would rather return to my country, even if it means that the Taliban would kill me right away. This is not my wish. The situation is not good here, either, there are a lot of people similar to me, and Serbia doesn’t have money to support all of us – this young man says.

27-year old man from Afghanistan who presents himself as Jean adds:

– I wanted to reach England, but on that route I ended in Serbia. I legally entered Iran from Afghanistan, because I was told that I could fly to England from there without any troubles. However, when I arrived to Iran, I learnt that it’s not possible, but that I had to go to Turkey first, and then to England. Turkey doesn’t issue visas to Afghan people, and I managed to obtain forged passport. So I entered Turkey and then I went to Greece, where I was required to pay 1200 USD for trip to England. I couldn’t do that – Jean says.

He adds that he nevertheless managed to reach England, but he didn’t want to tell how:

– I was in England for six months. I found friends and I really enjoyed it, but they soon returned me to Greece because this is where I arrived to England from. There are a lot of Kurds in Athens, who are dangerous for Afghanis. The mafia is rather developed and they are trying to use unfortunate people like me for crime. There I met Mustafa who was also from Afghanistan, and together we planned our journey to England, but that journey ended in Serbia.

With his traveling companion Mustafa (28), he left Greece and via Italy entered France, where they found a truck driver who promised to transport them to England for a large amount of money.

– He was driving us for two days in his truck. We were hidden and we didn’t know where we were. Then he stopped, threw us out and said that we had to continue on foot. This is generally an usual way for illegal border crossing. We thought that we are already in England, but when we saw policemen and asked them where we were, we were shocked to learn that we were in Serbia – says Mustafa about his journey. He left Afghanistan four months ago.

He said he had problems with Taliban there. In the part of Kabul where he lived, the police was in control of the situation during the day, but, he says, Taliban would come in night forcing people to join their troops.

– They forced us to fight against the Americans, and we don’t want to. We don’t want to kill anyone. Also, we don’t want to get killed in fights we don’t support. The only solution for me was to leave the country and save my life. My mother and one brother are in Iran, while my sister and other brother live in Pakistan – says Mustafa, who worked in the field of processing of animal skins back home.

Jean ads that he had problems with the government, while his family was in conflict with the families of “some powerful people”, who also threatened him:

– They could do whatever they wanted, to kill or detain me. That’s why I had to run away from that horrible pressure. My parents are dead, and my brother and sister live in Iran. I don’t have any close relatives in Afghanistan for whom I would wish to return. I have a girlfriend in Afghanistan whom I’m thinking about a lot.

Jean speaks English and helps his compatriots in the Center to communicate with other People. He says that he sued to work as a carpenter and glass cutter. Unlike Ranshbar, these two Afghanis see Serbia as a place where they could stay if they find a job and get legal documents to live like everybody else. Otherwise, they say they will continue their pursuit of better life.

1. Illegal migrants enters the territory of central Serbia most often from Kosovo and Metohija. The busiest route goes across Kosovo, Novi Pazar, Prijepolje and Montenegro, while the next destination on the path to better life is Bosnia and Herzegovina.

2. The second route goes across Gnjilane, Bujanovac and Vranje to Niš.
3. Illegal migrants are transferred also across Medveđa, Podujevo and Kosovska Kamenica.
4. All routes across Central Serbia meet in Belgrade, where is the main collection center for illegal migrants from Albania and Kosovo.

5. From Belgrade, they most often continue their journey to Šid and Croatia, and further to Italy.
6. An alternative route goes across Hungary, but it is rarely used.

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