Trapped in Serbia, migrants seek refuge in derelict warehouse

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Migrants living in a European warehouse
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Migrants living in a European warehouse
Migrants look on a mobile phone outside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
Migrants warm themselves and prepare food by the fire inside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
Migrants walk outside a derelict customs warehouse at night in Belgrade, Serbia, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
A migrant warms himself by the fire inside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
Migrants cook onions inside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
A young migrant prays on a bench near a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
A migrant warms himself by the fire inside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
Migrants queue to receive free tea near a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
Migrants cook onions inside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
A migrant poses for a picture inside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
A piece of bread lies on salt on a table inside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
Migrants are seen through a window of a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
A migrant poses for a picture inside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
Migrants rest wrapped in blankets inside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
A pair of shoes are left to dry inside a derelict customs warehouse occupied by migrants in Belgrade, Serbia, November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
A migrant wrapped in a blanket sleeps on a floor inside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
A ray of light falls on a migrant inside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
A migrant sleeps on a cardboard placed on a floor inside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
Migrants wrapped in blankets sleep on a floor of a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
Migrants wrapped in blankets sleep on a floor inside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
Rays of light shine through holes on walls of a derelict customs warehouse occupied by migrants in Belgrade, Serbia, November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
Migrants wrapped in blankets sleep on a floor inside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
A drawing of a world map is seen on a wall inside a derelict customs warehouse occupied by migrants in Belgrade, Serbia, November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
A migrant listens to music on his mobile phone inside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
Darvish, a fifteen-year-old migrant from Afghanistan, poses for a picture inside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
A migrant shows his feet outside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
A migrant smokes a cigarette in front of a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
A migrant stands wrapped in a blanket in front of a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 16, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
Clothes are left to dry on a wall of a derelict customs warehouse occupied by migrants in Belgrade, Serbia, November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
Migrants stand outside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
A migrant plays with crutches in front of a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
A migrant shaves his friend outside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
Migrants brush their teeth outside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
Migrants light a fire to warm themselves after taking a bath in front of a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 
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BELGRADE (Reuters) - More than 1,000 migrants, trapped in Serbia after fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Central Asia, have occupied a derelict warehouse in the capital Belgrade, where they are preparing to tough out a bitter Balkan winter.

More than 100,000 migrants have passed through Serbia this year, from countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, to seek sanctuary in the wealthy countries of northern Europe. But border closures have left many stranded.

"We want to go to Italy, Germany, France, but the border is closed at Hungary and Croatia," said Najib, who said he was from Afghanistan.

Around him, men warmed their hands on camp fires, as smoke drifted up into the high rafters, and others perched on car tyres as they washed at a makeshift sink in a vain attempt to keep away the filth of the tumbledown building.

Last year, hundreds of thousands of refugees swept through the Balkans, prompting countries to throw up near-impenetrable barriers to block them. More than 6,400 refugees are trapped in Serbia, 1,200 of them in this warehouse, aid workers say.

Some who had made it further north said they were beaten by police at the Hungarian border and sent back to Belgrade. Many had Serbian documents telling them they had no grounds to remain - but few have the means to return home.

"Here, look at this place, it's very dirty. I become sick," said Imrar Khan, 17, who left Pakistan three months ago. Dozens of migrants bed down in rows between piles of garbage in the warehouse, near the city's central station.

Authorities blame people traffickers for much of the influx. Since the beginning of the year, they have prevented 5,000 illegal border crossings and charged 356 people with the smuggling of around 2,000 people.

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