Serbia has been hosting refugees from Croatia and Bosnia for the past 20 years, but has found itself unprepared for the arrival of hundreds of new asylum seekers every day in recent months, the majority of them from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia.
Most make their way from neighbouring Macedonia or Bulgaria and spend a few nights in Belgrade, the capital, before heading north to Subotica, the last Serbian city before the border with Hungary.
Until recently, they crossed the border with relative ease, but under pressure from the EU, Serbia and Hungary have stepped up police patrols and many of the migrants are now intercepted and end up back in Belgrade where asylum-seeker centres are overwhelmed.
According to a report released today by Human Rights Watch, many also experience abuse, extortion and push-backs at the hands of Serbian police.
Click here to see IRIN’s photo feature, the second part of a series following migrants and asylum seekers along the Western Balkan route which is now the third most popular way of reaching the European Union.