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The Smuggling Game: Migrants Risk Their Lives to Reach Europe

IN PICTURES: Many refugees are stuck in Serbia unable to continue their journeys to Western Europe because of snow and closed borders, having spent most of their money on smugglers.

At least 7,000 migrants and refugees mainly from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are trapped in Serbia, many spending months in a country culturally and financially ill-equipped to care for them and where few of them want to stay.

Refugee camps are packed and only women and children are likely to be let into them, leaving the men to seek shelter where they can — in abandoned warehouses in central Belgrade, or the fields just south of the border.

Although that route was closed off last March, Serbian authorities estimate a further 110,000 migrants have passed through the country, many using smugglers to cross Serbia and its barbed-wire border with Hungary.

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A 16-year-old unaccompanied child migrant from Afghanistan “Ali,” who did not wish to use his real name, poses for a photo inside a large, abandoned warehouse near the main railway station in Serbia
A 16-year-old unaccompanied child migrant from Afghanistan “Ali,” who did not wish to use his real name, poses for a photo inside a large, abandoned warehouse near the main railway station in Serbia's capital Belgrade. Photo:Reuters
Ahmad Shakib poses for a picture at the entrance of a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia.
Ahmad Shakib poses for a picture at the entrance of a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia. Photo:Reuters
Otra al-Khadra poses for a picture at Krnjaca camp in Belgrade.
Otra al-Khadra poses for a picture at Krnjaca camp in Belgrade. Photo:Reuters
A migrant washes outside warehouses near the main railway station in Belgrade where Jamshid Shadab has been living since November 2016.
A migrant washes outside warehouses near the main railway station in Belgrade where Jamshid Shadab has been living since November 2016. Photo:Reuters
Peykey Naseri, an Afghan migrant poses for a photo in a refugee center with her five children in Adasevci, Serbia.
Peykey Naseri, an Afghan migrant poses for a photo in a refugee center with her five children in Adasevci, Serbia. Photo:Reuters
Migrants warm themselves around a fire in the abandoned warehouse where the young Ali lives.
Migrants warm themselves around a fire in the abandoned warehouse where the young Ali lives. Photo:Reuters
A family looks out the window of their bedroom in the refugee center where both Otra al-Khadra and Aras Mahmoud live in Belgrade.
A family looks out the window of their bedroom in the refugee center where both Otra al-Khadra and Aras Mahmoud live in Belgrade. Photo:Reuters
Aras Mahmoud with his wife, mother and children in their bedroom in a refugee center in Krnjaca.
Aras Mahmoud with his wife, mother and children in their bedroom in a refugee center in Krnjaca. Photo:Reuters
A child outside the refugee center where both Otra al-Khadra and Aras Mahmoud live in Belgrade.
A child outside the refugee center where both Otra al-Khadra and Aras Mahmoud live in Belgrade. Photo:Reuters
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