The new action plan of the European Commission on integration and inclusion, a high place on the list of priorities of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia, as well as numerous controversial media articles when it comes to migrants, were the reason for the debate “Migrant crisis in light of the COVID-19 pandemic”. The migrant crisis, the biggest since World War II, was discussed by experts from Serbia and Greece.
Ivana Račić, program coordinator of the Belgrade office of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, spoke about the impact of the COVID-19 virus pandemic, which found the whole world unprepared. The situation also greatly affected migrants and refugees, who in the middle of the crisis were forced to stay in transit countries longer than they thought, said Racic.
Jelica Minić, President of the European Movement in Serbia, said that the issues of migrants are important and that they have opened a specific channel of integration of our countries into European policies and the work of European institutions, but also that we will return to the migrant crisis in the coming years. .
When asked to comment on the anti-immigrant narrative, Svetlana Palić, media advisor of the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia, said that such a narrative is especially present on social networks, and that the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration always reacts when it encounters such examples.
“The stories about the settlement of migrants are completely fabricated. Fighting against such a narrative is important for us, and for migrants, Serbia is a transit country and they do not pay attention to it. “Says Palić and concludes that a deeper analysis is needed on this topic.
Miroslava Jelačić, manager of the “Migration Center” program, Group 484, talking about smuggling, said that civil society organizations should deal with educating refugees about the dangers of smuggling. Most migrants accept to be a victim of smuggling, in order to reach the desired destination “, concludes Jelačić.
Dimitris Buras, a documentary filmmaker and anthropologist from Athens, said: “The biggest risk in media reporting is false information. In particular, information on the situation on the border with Turkey. ” Buras warns of the fact that, by putting a kind of “label” on migrants and refugees, we are ignoring the fact that they are also people. People with name and surname, people with profession. Their integration into society is thus prevented.
Nikola Kovacevic, a lawyer and human rights expert, mentioned that the set of measures, adopted on the basis of the Law on Protection of the Population from Infectious Diseases, undoubtedly had a negative impact on the human rights of refugees and migrants. The asylum system was frozen from March 15 until mid-May, Kovacevic claims, citing the number of 9,000 people whose freedom and security were endangered, and who were accommodated in spaces with a capacity of up to 6,000 people. Today things are a little better.
“The question is the legal framework and whether it is possible that through one bylaw, you close the entire population,” says Kovacevic.
During the debate, inserts from the documentary film by Bojana Lekić Pushback – dangerous games were shown.
This online debate ended this year’s series “Serbia after the corona virus”, which was realized by the European Movement in Serbia in cooperation with the office of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Belgrade.