Some 300 people, mostly from Afghanistan and Pakistan, who started the march from the Serbian capital Belgrade on Friday, reached the town of Subotica near the border on Sunday morning, according to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

 

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The group, which is the largest in recent months, continues marching towards the frontier in the hope of gaining entry into Western Europe.

 

They were “going to Hungarian border” and going to “change something by walking and not eating,” said Abdul Malik from Afghanistan.

 

Serbia is located on the so-called Balkan route, through which hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East, Asia and Africa, have marched towards Western Europe, particularly Germany, since last year.

 

The route, which has been effectively closed since March, is still being taken by a number of refugees. According to UNHCR in Serbia, there are up to 2,800 refugees in Serbia, mostly in makeshift camps along the Hungarian border.

 

The number of refugees in Serbia has increased since Hungary introduced tough new measures this month to stop them crossing the border.

 

Serbia has also decided to launch joint police and army patrols to step up security along its borders.

 

We are here to guarantee their safety and prevent accidents en route,” said an unnamed police officer.

 

International medical aid agency Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has warned of a “sharp increase” in violence against refugees and asylum seekers since the Balkan borders closed.

 

“In the last months, an increasing number of our patients reported cases of violence and abuse and showed physical trauma directly associated with violence,” Simon Burroughs, MSF head of mission in Serbia said on Friday. “Many of these cases were allegedly perpetrated by Hungarian authorities,” he added.

 

Back in 2015, refugees launched a similar hunger strike in Serbia to protest strict measures adopted across the border with Hungary to stop the inflow of refugees.

 

Europe has been facing an unprecedented influx of refugees, most of whom are fleeing conflict zones in North Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria. Last year alone, well over a million refugees made their way into the continent.

 

Many blame major European powers for the exodus, saying their policies have led to a surge in terrorism and conflicts in the Middle Eastern region.