April 19, 2019
Serbia has never been the chosen final destination for refugees from Iraq, Syria, and other beleaguered countries like Afghanistan who have embarked on the so-called Balkan route since 2015. But following the closure of this route in March 2016, between 3,500 and 4,500 migrants have found themselves living in Serbia. This article analyses the composition and changing size of the migrant population, looking at the legal status of individuals and migratory paths taken. It moves on to examine reactions to the migrants from the state authorities and the Serbian public, together with the institutional response manifested in legal measures and infrastructural facilities, and the political contexts in which decisions about these were taken. Specific attention is given to the situation of refugee children who attend state schools in Serbia. The analysis reveals a pragmatic and quite flexible administrative response to the refugees’ situation. However, the remarkable level of tolerance is largely related to awareness that the great majority of those stranded in Serbia are doing everything in their power to continue their journey into central and northern Europe—that is to leave Serbia.