Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin confirmed on Thursday that soldiers fired warning shots to prevent migrants from leaving the camps where they are being quarantined.
Vulin told Belgrade daily Politika that soldiers guarding migrants camps fired warning shots on two occassions. The Serbian military was deployed around the camps where migrants have been quarantined since the state of emergency was declared as part of efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Pandemic Crisis Staff member, Dr Darija Kisic Tepavcevic said that residents at an old age center in Nis were infected with the coronavirus before soldiers were deployed to guard the facility. “COVID-19 appeared at the facility after unauthorized visits and before the Army of Serbia was deployed,” she said.
Vulin said that soldiers “used minimal force” to secure 20 camps housing more than 8,000 people who do not want to be in them”. “We are protecting the migrants and our population. If that wasn’t the case, 8,000 people would be wandering around Serbia during the pandemic and curfew,” the minister said, adding that all the people responsible for attempts to leave the camps and assaults on soldiers have been held accountable.
He said that he was in the camp in the Belgrade suburb of Krnjaca when migrants tried to get out. “I told our troops that no one can take their rifles from them and no one can injure our soldier,” Vulin said and addded that the soldiers showed “humanity but not weakness”.