More than 5,000 migrants entered Serbia on Sunday, resuming their journey to western Europe after the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia abandoned efforts to stem the flow by force.
Buses and trains took the mainly Syrian refugees into Serbia following days of chaotic scenes that saw Macedonian police use tear gas and stun grenades to try to prevent them crossing the border from Greece.
“I am scared,” said Rushin, one woman, holding her young daughter on the Greek-Macedonian border.
“My brother is gone, my husband is gone. I only have four daughters left. We have come here and we are not doing that well. We have been here for two days. For a week, we have not had access to anything. We are going to die here.”
The migrants are heading to Hungary, although it is racing to complete construction of a border fence to keep them out.
Why Hungary? It is the gateway to Europe’s visa-free Schengen zone and onward travel to other countries like Germany and Sweden.
Mohannad Albayati, 35, from Damascus, traveling with his wife, two children and three brothers, said: “I passed one step but it is a long road to my destination. With Allah’s help I will go to Germany.”
Serbia appears better equipped than FYR Macedonia to handle the surge in numbers, having recently opened a reception centre in the southern town of Presevo.
Huge queues formed as migrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia waited for papers to legalise their transit north.
People smugglers have thrived this summer on a surge of people fleeing war and poverty which has overwhelmed authorities from the Greek islands to the French port of Calais.