Destinations Magazine

Funnelling Them Forward

By Stizzard
Funnelling them forward Taking a train to the heart of Europe

THE SIGHT of desperate folk treading hard roads is familiar in Macedonia and Serbia. In the Kosovo war of 1999, more than 250,000 ethnic Albanians entered Macedonia; Serbia had to absorb even more of its own kin, for longer, after the Serb cause was defeated in various conflicts. But a new tide of migrants from further afield is startling for both countries.

On a road near Presevo in southern Serbia, once used mainly by farmers, a couple of young women trudge onwards, chattering in Arabic, followed by a larger Middle Eastern group of 20 with children, then a cluster of Africans. Tomor Misini, an ethnic Albanian war veteran, leads a group of local volunteers who help the travellers.

Since early June the number of migrants using this route, having set out from places like Syria, Afghanistan or the Horn of Africa, has risen four or fivefold to about 1,000 a day. Their immediate goal is Hungary, a European Union member whose borders have hitherto been porous.

Several other things have changed very recently. First, Serbia and Macedonia have largely stopped…

The Economist: Europe

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