Hiding in the woods looking for a gap and then, when one is spotted, running over the border, trying to avoid radar and dogs. Every night, hundreds of refugees wait at the wall of Europe, keeping an eye on the second fence that Hungary is building to join the 175 kilometer-long barrier that already separates the country from Serbia. They have tried to get across the two barriers dozens of times. Tonight is no different.
Those who manage to cross, if caught on Hungarian soil, are brutally beaten for hours, as we saw happen to a group of 75 migrants on Feb. 25 last year. Spray in their eyes, truncheons, blows to the ribs and feet, and attacked and bitten by dogs. “I had managed to travel at least 40 kilometers on Hungarian soil when the police arrested us. They destroyed our cell phones and took our shoes, they hit us and made us go back barefoot in the cold,” says Rehab, a Pakistani with a bloody black eye, at Subotica station, in Serbian Vojvodina. On the platforms, there are other injured people with broken limbs.
Many are children, because around 50 percent of migrants that arrive in Serbia via the Balkan route are minors, 20 percent of which are unaccompanied. But news of the abuse that they suffer never seems to reach Brussels. Ahsan, a 12-year-old child, escaped from the Indian state of Gujarat and has been living in a transit camp in Serbotica for the last three months, waiting to be added to the official list for Hungary, an absurd channel which only 10 asylum seekers pass through each day (while there have been around 7,000 refugees trapped in Serbia since last March). The night time, then, is the only hope; “border crossing” repeats Ahsan in the English he has picked up on the road. After crossing the border, last January, Hungarian police took his jacket and shoes away from him and made him lay on the ground for hours, in the freezing cold. Then, they forced him to walk back towards the border, barefoot. Temperature: below 20 degrees.