Dispatch from Belgrade

PHOTOGRAPHED BY paolo munari mandelli

DISPATCH FROM BELGRADE, 2017

The snow is falling slowly and steadily over the city. The biting cold penetrates to the bones, that could that prevents you from sleeping and even if you manage to you don’t know if you’ll be waking up the following day.

It is an unusual sensation to have turned back time, to have already seen and lived the horrors that should have gone and be buried in a grave forever. In Belgrade, life seems to flow relatively normally, despite all that has been occurring in the very heart of the city, between the central station and the bus station. Its citizens look utterly unresponsive to the emergency that has been happening here, perhaps remembering the old war.






Indifference reigns supreme here, and not only in Belgrade. But also in the European community. Our politician's words are nothing but hot air, lacking any possible credibility. The truth is that the situations that have come into being are not the outcome of mere chance. It’s the opposite, instead. My arrival at the bus station was like a punch to the gut; everything happens in broad daylight; there’s nothing to hide. It's merely before the eyes of a world that is looking still, senseless insensitive to what has been happening through these years.

Run down empty buildings with no sanitary facilities not hygienic conditions at all. The long corridor that links the two main blocks is used as an open-air toilet. Debris, dirt and garbage are everywhere. It ground missing glass doors, just a few clothes and blankets to insulate doors and windows from the cold, the wind and the show that keeps on falling carelessly. In the meantime, the temperature is dropping to minus 11 digress.





There are no women between immigrants; only a few teenagers, even too many of them to face all of this. A journey was full of hidden dangers, suffering and pain. Not only physical pain, as is the case of young Mohamed Sami who was just turned 18. Formerly from Pakistan Sami lived in a rural and mountainous area of the country. He didn’t choose to leave his homeland but was faced with the decision to stay, and so to risk his life or to try and reach Germany in search of new chances for living. Before going through this journey, Sami was an undergraduate in Informatics. “ I fled my country because my family and I had a problem with terrorist similar to the ones of the ISIS and Taliban.

I arrived in Belgrade through the border with Bulgaria, where I’ve been arrested, I was stripped naked and deprived of everything I had: my clothes, a few money I had on me and my cell phone. My objective is to get to Germany” Unfortunately Sami left his family behind in Pakistan and in addition to that he has lost one of his brothers in a gunfight. His journey began six months ago and hasn’t finished yet.

He doesn’t know when and how he will be able to leave Belgrade, several fellow countrymen of his are there well, in his very same conditions, like many others boys from Afghanistan. Youngsters of 14, 15 or 16 that try their luck and leave their families and siblings to go through a never-ending odyssey, infested by hungry sharks ready to take advantage of their vulnerability and suffering. We are in the new millennium still watching scenes that come directly from our recent past, mistake that we promised ourselves we would never make again. Nowadays reality proves the opposite instead. It shows to us, most of all, that humanity is talkative and prone to making the same mistakes for good. Many people believe that migrants are evil, the real critical issue.






But few people remember that our grandparents have been migrants themselves and fled from war and famine too. Immigrants are a valuable human resource that could pay some contribution to the growth of every single country hosting them. We live in a globalised world, where everyone is in contact with anything and anybody, and still, we fear unknown to us. Are we in 2017? Or we are in1945? How many immigrants will be died, before the EU going to do something?


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