Spending the night on the Serbia-Hungary border with refugee women

SEPTEMBER 16, 2015 | Priyali Sur | INTERNATIONAL

Many of the 3,000 refugees who spent last night on the Serbian side of the Roszke Horgos border are women and children.

Hungary shut its border with Serbia on Tuesday, saying that refugees had to apply for asylum from a transit center before entering the country. Hungarian authorities said that criminal proceedings would be launched against any migrants found crossing the fence illegally and that they could face up to 10 years in prison.

Meanwhile, the thousands of refugees remain trapped, spending the night on the Serbia-Hungary border in hopes that it would soon be opened. Many have been on the road for weeks, with little food and water and poor sanitation conditions. The women I spoke to seemed exhausted.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees are fleeing war in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, according to news reports. NBC reported that “more than 190,000 … have been recorded entering Hungary from Serbia this year, many of them having crossed the water from Turkey to Greece.”

Here, some photos of life on the border as the refugees wait—and hope.

At first glance, the scene at the Roszke Horgos border looks like a junk yard. Look closer and you see men, women, and children wrapped in tinfoil to stay warm through the night.

A Syrian woman holds her baby as she waits for aid workers to fix her a tent for the night.

Amal and Hasna are restless, shivering and unable to sleep. As two of the oldest women in their group, they have ensured the others stay warm while they try to fight the cold.

Nisreen shies away from the camera as she prepares for the night. She says she has spent 4,000 euros to get this far and will wait for as long as it takes for the Serbia-Hungary border to reopen—but she will not go back.

Carin, 58, and her daughter, Samar, 17, have fled Syria and are trying to get to Germany. Carin begins to cry when she tells me about her husband and son whom they left behind, but says there was just enough money for the women to leave. Hopefully, she says, the men will join them later. Samar wants to study in Europe. Both women are hesitant to reveal their faces, fearing consequences to their family back home in Syria.

This woman fled Syria two weeks ago with a group of women. She says her legs are swollen. The women in the group, she says, hope the men in their families will be able to join them soon.

Sumaiya, 18, and her little sister are traveling with their aunt. She says she hasn’t taken a bath for more than two weeks and is getting a skin allergy. She says she avoids going to the field in front of her tent, where the men frequently go to urinate. Sumaiya is almost in tears—there is no bathroom near her.

Abeer, 27, quit her job in Syria as an accountant manager to travel to Sweden with her mother. She doesn’t want to face the camera, but wants to show off her hair, which, she says, was impossible in Syria because she wore a hijab.

All photos by Priyali Sur.

To read more of Priyali’s refugee-crisis reporting, click here –


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