Three years have passed since the so-called long summer of migration and still thousands of people seeking protection in the EU remain stranded along the Balkan Route. After former routes were closed in early 2016, those people suddenly became stuck, first in Serbia and now in the Bosnian towns of Bihad and Velika Kladuša. Due to a lack of legal options, many try to enter the EU irregularly, yet few succeed.
Media, NGOs and solidarity activist groups are repeatedly reporting systematic Human Rights abuses against people on the move by the authorities of EU member states such as Croatia and Hungary. Instead of giving access to the Common European Asylum System, police both forcibly and illegally deport those seeking for protection. This is often accompanied by systematic violence. There have been documented incidents of violent push-back practices over the last three years, and it does not seem that this behavior is going to stop.
In light of these challenges and opportunities ahead, this round-table discussion will bring together a group of NGOs, academics, EU officials, and civil society to discuss pragmatic approaches to address the raw attention to the conditions facing people on the move in the Western Balkans, focusing on illegal push-backs and border violence. Inter alia, organizations such as No Name Kitchen (www.nonamekitchen.org) and Rigardu (www.rigardu.de) will offer perspectives from the field, highlighting how the lack of safe and legal passages has aggravated the situation of people on the move in the Western Balkans.
- Describe the history of push-back practices, with a focus on practices that have been used in the region
- Report on current illegal push-back practices in the Western Balkans, with a focus on the Hungarian/Serbian, Croatian/Serbian and Croatian/Bosnian and Herzegovinian borders.
- Present reports on how these current factors are affecting people on the move through the Western Balkan corridor (eg. instances of border violence)
- Illustrate how the lack of safe and legal passages has, led to a dramatic increase in smuggling and forced people on the move to attempt more and more dangerous routes
- Report on the criminalization of volunteers and NGOs working with people on the move
- Discuss how the responsibility to end the continuing Human Rights violations at its borders belongs to the EU itself