We just want to pass - exploring the victimization of refugees on the move in Serbia
Abstract: Refugee crisis of 2015 has strained European asylum system, and EU member states responded by closing the borders, leaving many refugees stranded in Serbia. Preventing refugees from accessing the territory of EU has led to breeching of the international protection mechanisms and victimization of refugees. Previous research on victimization of refugees is broad but it does not explore victimization on the move. The present study thus fills a research gap and by using descriptive statistics it strives to set foundation for further research. Aim of the study is to explore the prevalence and forms of victimization against the refugee population in Serbia and to provide better understanding of the phenomenon by investigating what types of victimization and perpetrators are refugees exposed to while travelling. Quantitative method in form of descriptive statistics has been used to analyze the data collected from a sample of 153 refugees transiting through Serbia between December 2015 until December 2016. Results of the study show that the most common types of victimization are physical violence and pushbacks by police while irregularly crossing the borders. Further results show that young males are most commonly victimized, while valid results on women could not be drawn due to very low response rate. Since police violence is mostly connected to pushbacks, the great part of victimization of refugees seems to be systematic and carried out as a measure of border control. As such, refugees’ victimization is harsh breeching of humanitarian laws and international conventions. Although the research sample was small, some trends regarding the victimization of refugees on the move could be observed. The study concludes that further systematic research of the phenomenon is needed in order to prevent further victimization and improve the international protection mechanisms and support systems for one of the most vulnerable groups.
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