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Villagers in Kovin block road because of migrants, then cancel protest: What's really going on here?

Refugee Commissioner Vladimir Cucic says the decision has been changed and there will be no migrant center at the Cardak

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After a protest was organized in the village of Deliblato in the municipality of Kovin in response to the decision of the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration to move migrants from the Middle East and Africa to the "Cardak" School and Recreation Center in Deliblato Sands, information has arrived that the decision had been reversed.

Deliblato villager Petar Stamenovic, one of the initiators of the protest, said in an interview with Telegraf.rs that half an hour before the protest began today information arrived that the decision to settle migrants in the facility had been withdrawn.

"The police told us it was over. The municipality has the same information. We don’t know who made the decision, we didn’t see the paper. For us, that's is less important than what we wanted to achieve," Stamenovic tells us, adding that he believes the information is correct.

Refugee Commissioner Vladimir Cucic later confirmed for Tanjug that there would be no migrant center at the Cardak.

We received an official announcement from the municipality, but not confirmation of the information.

"The Cardak is not under the authority of the Kovin municipality in any sense, but it is located in the territory of our municipality. It is a school and recreation center, a special nature reserve that is under the first degree of protection. People have self-organized and come to show how dissatisfied they are precisely because children and athletes in our municipality are the main visitors to this place, as well as our fellow citizens who often spend their free time at the Cardak."

"I am here to ask them not to cause any unrest and to calm them down until the authorities react, in the hope they would reverse their decision. I am very concerned about the health of my fellow citizens, which is the most important thing at the moment," said Sanja Petrovic, President of the Temporary Body of the Kovin Municipality.

We did not get any answers to our further questions regarding whether the statement denies the allegations of protesting citizens who claimed they had the support of the municipality, and that representatives of the local government were with them, as they said, helping them and bringing them masks.

Before the confirmation came from the Commissariat, we tried to check with the Vojvodina Sume public company, but by the time the article was published, and by the official announcement of Cucic, we received no response.

Protest during a state of emergency

As Deliblato resident Stamenovic explained to us, the news intially came to the village about the Provincial Government's decision that the Cardak would be used to treat villagers infected with coronavirus. Later, information arrived which alarmed them and caused hundreds of people to get on their feet.

"Was there a communication error between the Republic and the Province... In the middle of last week, a handover was made between Vojvodina Sume and the Commissariat for Refugees. Our people work there, we heard it and organized ourselves to prevent it," he explained how it all started.

They felt that they were being deprived of treatment options at a time of an epidemic - and where better to receive that treatment than at the Deliblato Sands air spa.

"The second reason is that they (migrants) should by no means be there, because the Deliblato Sands is the bearer of economic development and tourism in southern Banat. We would have nothing more to offer," he says, adding that they understand the fate of migrants but do not share the opinion on how to solve it: "It's wartime, we too have been at war, we know what that's like, but we thought this should not be done so."

Stamenovic also said that more than 300 people gathered in the village yesterday where traffic was completely blocked starting at noon.

"We tried our best to comply with the norms. Masks, a safe distance, but we had to express our displeasure. We launched an online petition that exploded. More than 8,000 signatures have been collected," he explains, adding that the police were present and warning the protesters to keep a safe distance between themselves.

tamenovic also told us that he didn't know the number of possible settlers, but that the Cardak" is equipped with about 160 beds.

Video: The Greek army arrests 30 migrants in the middle of the night on the bank of the Maritsa River

(B. Petrovic)

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