Diaspora under fire: Did we cause Serbia’s Coronavirus surge?
President Vučić has singled out citizens returning to Serbia as chief culprits for the spread of coronavirus in the country.
Those returning to the country say they feel like their under a cloud of suspicion that they are bringing the virus into the country.
On Wednesday, Vučić told reporters:
There’s only one big mistake we made, one which we could not avoid due to our constitution. We would not have had a half of our problems, not even a quarter, had I not have made that mistake. Namely, allowing our citizens to return to the territory of Serbia. Since we allowed a group back from Bali, others are expecting as much. Our people are in every place in the world. Imagine we never had Air Serbia – what would we do? It also serves to fly back aid from China.
Media outlets reported that “tens of thousands” would return to Serbia, mainly from Italy, spreading the virus further. A camp has been prepared part quarantine, part deterrent.
But the message is blurred. The president appealed to Serbian health workers in Germany for help despite facing being blocked from return. Transport has been organised for others in various places and circumstances, if begrudgingly.
Dragan Stanojevic, President of the Diaspora ROD movement, wrote a letter to the Prime Minister to lament the negative image being painted of the Diaspora.
Stanojevic supports the strict measures in place. However he writes that other European countries are urging citizens to return rather than stigmatising them. In Serbia, citizens are told to stay away while migrants are welcomed with open arms while openly flouting the curfew.
This atmosphere of fear is not accidental. Vučić added:
I am happy that people are scared, because as doctors say, if people are afraid, they will be more careful.
Mladen Nesic from Niš returned from a stay in Paris to be with his wife and children. He says that a message form the state warning all citizens abroad not to return was shameful, especially as the authorities themselves are not taking the situation seriously.
At the airport people queued two metres apart but were soon corralled to a smaller space where they barely had 20cm between them. Here they were no gloves, masks or hand sanitiser, says Nesic.