Close to a million migrants have entered the European continent by 2016. UNHCR projects another million in the current year. I conducted a month's worth of fieldwork at the Presevo refugee center, a major transit point on the Serbia-Macedonia border. It continues to process an average of 2,000 migrants daily, a volume that has remained undiminished by the winter. I conducted dozens of interviews with camp officials, medical staff, volunteers, translators, UNHCR and government representatives, and policemen conducting registration; as well as thirty in-depth interviews with Syrian refugees processed through this Transit Center in January 2016. Subjects spoke in detail about their experiences in Syria prior to migration, their step-by-step journey and experiences with smugglers, traffickers, state officials, and other refugees. I inquire into two evolving aspects of the migration wave in the preceding 12-18 month period: first, the changing demographic, ethnic/national and socioeconomic profile of the migrant population; and second, the gradual replacement of human smuggling and other organized criminal mechanisms of transportation, security and coordination with government-sponsored mechanisms. I offer some preliminary suggestions as to how these two processes interrelate, and explore policy implications for European countries along the Balkan Route.
Danilo Mandić is a College Fellow in the Department of Sociology whose research focuses on social movements, nationalism, ethnic relations, civil war and organized crime. He is currently developing a manuscript on the role of organized crime in separatist movements of the post-Cold War period. He is interested in conceptualizing organized crime as a neglected non-state actor and in understanding the interrelations of states, social movements and illicit flows of people, goods and ideas in regions with separatist disputes.