Photos: Depopulation turns Serbia’s border villages into a ghost town

UPDATED ON AUG 24, 2017 04:37 PM IST 8 Photos
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Repusnica was once a bustling village on the slopes of Mount Stara Planina in Serbia. Now its bars lie empty, its houses stand shuttered and only the older men and women walk the streets. Authorities declared the village near the border with Bulgaria closed in 1998 due to depopulation caused by mechanization of the economy, the closure of state factories and an exodus from Serbia linked to the Balkan wars of the 1990s. (Marko Djurica / REUTERS)

Repusnica was once a bustling village on the slopes of Mount Stara Planina in Serbia. Now its bars lie empty, its houses stand shuttered and only the older men and women walk the streets. Authorities declared the village near the border with Bulgaria closed in 1998 due to depopulation caused by mechanization of the economy, the closure of state factories and an exodus from Serbia linked to the Balkan wars of the 1990s. (Marko Djurica / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON AUG 24, 2017 04:37 PM IST
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The Yugoslav wars or the third Balkan wars were a series of wars and insurgencies fought from 1991 to 1999/2000 in the former Yugoslavia. Since World War II, these wars are considered as Europe’s deadliest conflicts witnessing war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. According to the Humanitarian Law Center, more than 130,000 people lost their lives with another 140,000 internally displaced in this period. (Marko Djurica / REUTERS)

The Yugoslav wars or the third Balkan wars were a series of wars and insurgencies fought from 1991 to 1999/2000 in the former Yugoslavia. Since World War II, these wars are considered as Europe’s deadliest conflicts witnessing war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. According to the Humanitarian Law Center, more than 130,000 people lost their lives with another 140,000 internally displaced in this period. (Marko Djurica / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON AUG 24, 2017 04:37 PM IST
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Vida, the last woman living in the village of Ravno Bucje stands in front of her home near the town of Knjazevac, Serbia. Her husband Bosko died last year and although the village is located in the interiors and has tough winters, she wants to stay back in the village. Her daughter lives in Knjazevac and brings her essentials once a month. Vida lives in the village with a dog and two cats. (Marko Djurica / REUTERS)

Vida, the last woman living in the village of Ravno Bucje stands in front of her home near the town of Knjazevac, Serbia. Her husband Bosko died last year and although the village is located in the interiors and has tough winters, she wants to stay back in the village. Her daughter lives in Knjazevac and brings her essentials once a month. Vida lives in the village with a dog and two cats. (Marko Djurica / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON AUG 24, 2017 04:37 PM IST
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A death notice hangs on a wall of an abandoned house in the empty village of Repusnica, Serbia. The dwindling population has left many villages inhabitated only by elderly couples or in some cases a single person. Schools, clinics, veterinary stations and shops are closed while visitors are rare and roads peppered with potholes. (Marko Djurica / REUTERS)

A death notice hangs on a wall of an abandoned house in the empty village of Repusnica, Serbia. The dwindling population has left many villages inhabitated only by elderly couples or in some cases a single person. Schools, clinics, veterinary stations and shops are closed while visitors are rare and roads peppered with potholes. (Marko Djurica / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON AUG 24, 2017 04:37 PM IST
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According to the census, between 2002 and 2011, Serbia lost more than 377,000 people or 5% of its population of around 7 million. A similar situation exists in some other countries in the Balkans and south-eastern Europe. ‘We now have a population in line with what we had after World War One,’ said Marija Jelenkovic, a municipal official. (Marko Djurica / REUTERS)

According to the census, between 2002 and 2011, Serbia lost more than 377,000 people or 5% of its population of around 7 million. A similar situation exists in some other countries in the Balkans and south-eastern Europe. ‘We now have a population in line with what we had after World War One,’ said Marija Jelenkovic, a municipal official. (Marko Djurica / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON AUG 24, 2017 04:37 PM IST
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In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s around a million left to seek jobs in the West. An estimated 700,000 people left Serbia during the Balkan wars of the 1990s. ‘Some people left, moved away ... to seek better living standards. The village was neglected and ignored especially when it came to infrastructure. Only the elderly stayed behind, the parents of those who left, and over time they grew older and died’, says a local resident of the Repusnica village. (Marko Djurica / REUTERS)

In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s around a million left to seek jobs in the West. An estimated 700,000 people left Serbia during the Balkan wars of the 1990s. ‘Some people left, moved away ... to seek better living standards. The village was neglected and ignored especially when it came to infrastructure. Only the elderly stayed behind, the parents of those who left, and over time they grew older and died’, says a local resident of the Repusnica village. (Marko Djurica / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON AUG 24, 2017 04:37 PM IST
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The outflow continued after the fall of President Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. A transition to a market economy saw many state factories close and a trend towards smaller families has seen the average age rise to 42 according to the 2011 census. The Serbian government has sought to tackle the problem by improving infrastructure and offering incentives to younger people to stay in villages. The effort is yet to yield results. (Marko Djurica / REUTERS)

The outflow continued after the fall of President Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. A transition to a market economy saw many state factories close and a trend towards smaller families has seen the average age rise to 42 according to the 2011 census. The Serbian government has sought to tackle the problem by improving infrastructure and offering incentives to younger people to stay in villages. The effort is yet to yield results. (Marko Djurica / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON AUG 24, 2017 04:37 PM IST
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In 2015, a human rights official appointed by parliament said the country should ask migrants flooding through the Balkans from the Middle East to settle in empty villages but the idea was later abandoned. (Marko Djurica / REUTERS)

In 2015, a human rights official appointed by parliament said the country should ask migrants flooding through the Balkans from the Middle East to settle in empty villages but the idea was later abandoned. (Marko Djurica / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON AUG 24, 2017 04:37 PM IST
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