Seven years after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, tens of thousands of its citizens – many ethnic Albanians – have fled the country in the hopes of carving out a better life in the European Union.
The town of Palic in northern Serbia is the last stop for many migrants before illegally crossing the border into Hungary, a member of the 28-nation EU.
Between 23,000 to 50,000 Kosovo Albanians have arrived in Palic since December, in what is the largest Balkan migration since the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Each day, hundreds more arrive by bus.
“I arrived today at 11 o’clock. So we are here, and we don’t know what’s going to happen after this,” a 24-year-old migrant from Kosovo told FRANCE 24.
The journey to Hungary begins in Palic’s back roads, where migrants set off for the border, just six kilometres away. Those who can afford to pay guides around 200 euros to show them the easiest routes. Others walk to the frontier in large groups. Migrants generally stay in Palic for about two days before attempting to make the crossing.
Poverty and political corruption are two of the main factors that have driven many Kosovars to leave their homes in the hopes of a better life in Europe.
The mass exodus has been a source of growing concern for Kosovo’s government. But aside from issuing warnings against entering the EU illegally via Serbia, Kosovo authorities have done little to stem the flow.
Date created : 2015-02-17