Iranians use visa-free travel to Serbia to flee to EU

The family of four comes from the town of Ahvaz in the province of Khuzestan in Iran's south west, where the majority of the population is Arabic.

Iranians use visa-free travel to Serbia to flee to EU

World Bulletin / News Desk

Until six months ago, the Lovimi family from Iran had never heard of Serbia.

But here they are, currently in Belgrade, after arriving without visas last August, waiting to continue on to Germany, where they plan to build a new and better life in the future.

They complain that, as Arabs, they have few rights in Iran, their children are forced to learn Farsi and not Arabic in school, and they are treated as second-class citizens, with little hope of finding a job. 

So, when Belgrade and Tehran abolished reciprocal tourist visas last August, the Lovimis decided to take their chance and come to Belgrade. And from there, they hoped to continue on to the EU and a better future. 

The Lovimis are not the only ones. 

According to official statistics, around 7,000 fellow Iranians have arrived in Serbia since August, intially as tourists, but some of them with no intention of returning home. 

Shahla Lovimi, a 40-year-old housewife, says she and her family had originally gone to Turkey with the intention of carrying on from there to Germany via Italy.

"We have never had the intention to go through Belgrade. We have never heard about Belgrade. We went to Turkey and the smuggler took us here," she tells AFP. 

She and her car mechanic husband and their two children, aged 11 and 17, paid the smuggler 22,000 euros ($27,000). 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Mart 2018, 11:32