KELEBIJA, Serbia (AP) — About 200 hundred migrants, including children, gathered Thursday at Serbia’s border with Hungary to demand to be allowed entry into the European Union country.
Braving freezing evening weather and biting winds, the migrants camped at the Kelebija border crossing, blocking traffic. Wrapped in blankets or sleeping bags, many migrants were lying or sitting on the ground, holding their personal belongings close by.
The children shouted “Open borders!” while some of the migrant banners read “we are refugees, not criminals” or “we are running from war, not hunger.” The border crossing was closed to traffic.
There are several thousands migrants, who are fleeing war and poverty in their countries, stuck in the Balkans while seeking to move to the more prosperous nations in Western Europe. Hungary has erected two rows of wire fences at the border to prevent their entry.
“We ask European Union to open the borders, please, please open borders,” said Amr Abohatem from Yemen. “They should ask our governments why people come here!”
Most migrants in Serbia spend months in the state camps and attempt to cross the borders several times. They often rely on people smugglers to help them cross to Hungary or another EU member state, Croatia.
Hungary has recently reported a spike in attempted illegal entry by migrants. A Hungarian security guard fired three warning shots when several dozen migrants tried to enter Hungary late last month.
Most migrants come from countries such as Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands passed through the Balkans in 2015-16 when about one million people entered Europe.