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In Serbia, migrants march in protest toward Hungary border

More than 6,000 migrants are stuck in Serbia after Hungary this summer introduced strict border controls. 

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Migrants and refugees march in protest towards the Serbian border with Hungary near the Belgrade suburb of Batajnica, Serbia, Tuesday Oct. 4, 2016.

(AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

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Hundreds of migrants set off on foot on Tuesday toward Serbia's border with Hungary to protest its closure for most people trying to reach the European Union.

There are more than 6,000 migrants stuck in Serbia after Hungary this summer introduced strict limits to their crossing into the EU-member country and reinforced its razor-wire fence with heavy border patrols.

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The so-called Balkan migrant route, last year used by nearly 1 million people fleeing wars and poverty, formally closed in March, forcing migrants to use alternative routes and pay people smugglers to get them across.

Police intervened on Tuesday after protesters clashed with other groups of migrants who were against the demonstration. Some 150 of them later marched toward the Hungarian border about 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of the Serbian capital.

They chanted "Open Hungary Borders" and carried banners saying "we don't need food, water or nothing, we want you to open the borders." There were no reported injuries during the scuffles.

There are some 6,000 migrants stuck in Serbia after Hungary this summer introduced strict limits to their crossing into the EU-member country and reinforced its razor-wire fence with heavy border patrols. The so-called Balkan migrant route formally closed in March, forcing migrants to use alternative routes.

On Sunday, Hungarians voted overwhelmingly to reject the EU’s redistribution scheme for refugees. As The Christian Science Monitor reported, the vote comes amid the rise of right-wing populists, who are peddling an anti-EU message that has gained a deeper foothold during the refugee crisis.

Among the most provocative have been the Visegrad countries: Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Czech Republic. Leaders have sued the bloc over the mandatory relocation plan. They have said outright that they would take in Christian refugees but not Muslim ones, and butted heads with Brussels and particularly German Chancellor Angela Merkel, arguing that migration should be a national, not surpranational, issue.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán led the group when he sealed Hungary’s southern border and militarized it with police and the Army last year. His referendum campaign explicitly linked the refugee crisis to Europe’s terrorism threat. “Did you know? Since the beginning of the migration crisis more than 300 people died in terrorist attacks in Europe,” read one advertisement.