Motel Adaševci

a refugee camp on the balkan route

It's Saturday night at the last rest stop before the Serbian border to Croatia. Usually this service area is nothing out of the ordinary. There's just a gas station and a motel. And yet this very Motel turned into an impromptu refugee camp.

Welcome to Motel Adasevci.

INTERSOS van with free internet and mobile phone charging

At this point the people already crossed the sea between Turkey and Greece, travelled through Macedonia or Bulgaria and Serbia.

INTERSOS van with mobile phone charging stations

A little van is parked on the lawn where there is free WiFi and an opportunity to charge mobile phones. This is the time where the people get intel on the route and the situations at the borders. It is the time to catch up with friends and family.

Refugees charge their smartphones on multi socket plugs inside Motel Adaševci

In the Motel itself people play cards or stare at their mobile phones while they are charging. Some rest. Some children play hide and seek.

Refugee sleeping in the Motel Adaševci lobby

There's some infrastructure like a tent with medical assistance and a tent where people get soup and tea.

NGO set up a tent with medical assistance for the refugees

It is the waiting that makes the situation such a drag. Nobody knows for how long the people are stuck here.

Refugees holding a hand drawn picture of the Syrian flag

For the last weeks buses from Belgrade or Presevo pass here. There are people on board that come from three countries: Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. They are refugees.

Two refugees from Afghanistan

The people at Adasevci wait for several hours until a critical number of people is reached. Then the bus convoy leaves to the nearby train station of Sid.

Refugee kid

There are a lot of children. These children are brave beyond anything you can imagine.

Refugee father and his daughter

The pictures they draw show what they've must have been through. Pictures of war scenes.

Two refugee kids in the medical tent

Some people show us their photo albums on their smartphones. Selfies with friends, pictures of food, family gatherings, architecture and landscapes.

Refugee father with his two children

There's literally no difference to the photo albums you would find on a smartphone anywhere in Europe.

A refugee kid with a U turn sweater

The people here at Motel Adasevci are people like you and me.

Refugee showing pictures on his smartphone

As he swipes through the gallery the pictures shift from the fun stuff to the serious: pictures of night walks in the mud, of the transit in the boat. Just until this very point we were the same. Then he became a refugee.

Broken cars behind the Adasevci rest stop

It truly is a grim place.

Winter night at the Adasevci motorway gas station

The buses bring people to the train station in Sid, just a couple of miles closer to the border to Croatia.

Buses with refugees waiting to drive to the Croatian border

This girl is drinking water from a truck as there's barely a place else where you can get something to drink.

Refugee girl drinking water from a truck

They left everything behind, their life, their jobs. All they want is freedom and happiness.

Young refugee family with kids

They fled from terrorists that claim a radical interpretation of islam.

Young refugee men posing for a group photo

In all this tragedy the kids yell 'peace, peace'.

Playing refugee children showing peace sign

Suddenly the people get back to their buses. They are relieved that the waiting is over for now.

Refugees sitting on the floor waiting for news

I get asked all of the time where we are, where we're going and how long it takes.

Inside a bus with refugees

It's 2am and the people are exhausted and cold. The bus is overcrowded.

Refugee family sleeping inside a bus

She looked at me. I was not sure how to react. Then she gave me this amazing smile. I took a photo. She thanked me and kept smiling.

Refugee grandmother smiling

The buses bring people to the train station in Sid, just a couple of kilometers closer to the border to Croatia. At this train station the Croatian police makes them enter the train to Slavonski Brod, a transit zone in Croatia.

Unloading the bus at the train station in Šid at the Serbian border to Croatia

The police has a strict routine. Bus after bus people unload their belongings and wait in line to cross this checkpoint. People with no valid papers can not pass and must stay in another makeshift refugee camp just across the street.

Refugees waiting in line to enter the train to Croatia

The next stops are Slavonski Brod, Croatia. Then Dobova, Slovenia. Eventually a country in Western Europe where they apply for asylum.

Refugees enter a train to cross the border

Let us be open hearted.

Let us welcome them.