Migrants from Kosovo walk into the dawn. Hungary has intercepted more than 10,000 of them since the beginning of this year, according to data given to our Budapest bureau. The count changes depending on the source. Many have their hearts set on Germany.
Kosovo declared itself independent from Serbia in 2008, and although the migrants can pass through Serbia easily now, life in Kosovo has not developed enough for these young people.
Asked why they are leaving, one said: “It’s because we are disappointed, because we are fighting years since ago… and Kosovo doesn’t change anything. “
The Kosovans take a bus, legally, through Serbia for ten hours to get to the Hungarian border, which is richly garnished by forest, where they attempt to cross on foot, which is not legal.
If they are stopped by police, they apply for asylum. As they are not detained, they can press ahead to countries in the EU Shengen Zone.
But asylum is refused because they are not fleeing a war or persecution, such as at the end of the 1990s. At least it prevents them from being sent straight back.
What has made so many leave their country?
One migrant we spoke to said: “No job, no work and no schooling. We all have to flee Kosovo because we don’t have a future there.”
According to Lieutenant Colonel Gábor Eberhardt, the chief of police in this border area of Hungary, there were more than 1,000 illegal crossings per day in December and January.
Eberhardt said: “These has been a drop-off in numbers over the past [short while], taking action against 300-700 illegals per day.”
Serbia’s police have been stopping people more at their border as well, so both sides are reinforcing efforts. They both receive technical help from the European Union border monitoring agency FRONTEX, such as thermal imaging cameras,vehicles and support personnel.
Migrants from Kosovo, young people and families with children also come to the border by taxi, then pay a trafficker guide 980€ per person to make the crossing possible.