I had less than 48 hrs in Novi Sad. A lot of that time was spent in Facebook, variously in 1 to 3 chat windows talking to people in Berlin, Sid, Zagreb and Belgrade off and on simultaneously. This was the routine: I wrote in Farsi from Novi Sad for a friend in Berlin who translated into Kurdish for one of the members of the Kurdish family on the move (I wrote about them in my previous posts) who were in Sid, and I reported back to activist contacts in Zagreb and Belgrade. And relayed their responses back into the feed. Laboured and time-consuming communication but absolutely essential. We had to go through this elaborate set up because my activist contacts didn’t have Arabic translator present and Farsi-Kurdish-Farsi-English was the way to go. The intention was to connect the family with a support network as soon as possible, before they felt compelled to move somewhere else.
In the absence of clear and reliable information, people on the move who are caught in the Balkans are vulnerable to rumours and prey to traffickers who are moving them from one place to another without getting them to “destination countries.” Now that the Balkan countries have to do Western Europe’s dirty work again and keep the people from crossing, people are moving in circles from one border camp to another. In theory, they are encouraged to apply for asylum where they are, so in Slovenia, or Croatia or Serbia, and these countries have to review the asylum applications. Why don’t people stay and apply? Here’s a sample reason: In Croatia, since 2004 there have been over 5,000 asylum applications and only about 100 have been accepted, most of them after years of being stuck in the process.