A Pakistani identity card in the bushes, a Bangladeshi one in a cornfield. A torn Iraqi driver’s licence bearing the photo of a man with a Saddam-style moustache, another one with a scarfed woman displaying a shy smile.
Documents scattered only metres from Serbia’s border with Hungary provide evidence that many of the migrants flooding Europe to escape war or poverty are scrapping their true nationalities and likely assuming new ones, just as they enter the European Union.
Many of those migrants believe that using a fake document – or having none at all – gives them a better chance of receiving asylum in Germany and other western European states. That’s because the surest route to asylum is to be a refugee from war and not an economic migrant fleeing poverty. That fact has led to a huge influx of people claiming to be Syrian.
Serbian border police say that 90 per cent of those arriving from Macedonia, about 3000 a day, claim they are Syrian, although they have no documents to prove it. The so-called Balkan corridor for the migrant flight starts in Turkey, then goes through Macedonia and Serbia before entering the European Union in Hungary.
“You can see that something is fishy when most of those who cross into Serbia enter January 1 as the date of their birth,” border police officer Miroslav Jovic said. “Guess that’s the first date that comes to their mind.”