Balkan country has had a sharp rise in number of Iranians seeking asylum, as young people flee from an economy on its knees
At Miksalite refugee centre in central Belgrade, young asylum seekers are queueing up to get a free haircut. The room is packed with newcomers, connecting their phones to plug extensions and wifi; elsewhere, two people are playing table tennis.
Some have just arrived from the Middle East and north Africa, others have been sleeping rough in the nearby Park Luka elovi, known locally as Afghani Park. But unusually in Serbia a gateway to the EU it is Iranians who make up significant numbers of new arrivals.
Last year, Serbia became the first country in mainland Europe to offer Iranians visa-free travel. Hostels and apartments are full to the roof thanks to Iranian tourists. In Knez Mihailova, Belgrades pedestrian zone, Farsi is frequently heard.
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