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Serbia Offers Citizenship To Afghan Refugee Dubbed 'Little Picasso'

  • RFE/RL's Balkan Service

Serbia offered citizenship to the family of a 10-year-old Afghan boy who has become known as "Little Picasso" for his impressive artworks.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic made the offer on August 16 after a meeting in Belgrade with Farhad Noory and the other four members of his family.

He also promised a scholarship for the boy to continue to develop his artistic talent and work for his father.

Noory and his family have been living for eight months in a refugee camp on the outskirts of the Balkan nation’s capital.

His impressive portraits of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, surrealist painter Salvador Dali, and others have made him a local media star.

Last week he had an exhibition of his paintings and photographs in Belgrade, hoping to raise money for a Serbian child's treatment for brain cancer.

His family entered Serbia as part of a huge wave of migrants hoping to start new lives in Western Europe in recent years, but they got stuck in Belgrade after the so-called "Balkan route" was shut down last year. Noory’s father has said they had hoped to resettle in Switzerland.

“We are not rich as Switzerland, but you will see that Belgrade is a nice city and if you want to stay we would give you Serbian citizenship right away,” Vucic said.

“Our policy is a policy of sincere friendship, solidarity, and love for the refugees and for people who are looking for a future,” Vucic added. "If you see this future here in Serbia, consider yourself welcome in our country."

The family did not say if it would take Vucic up on his offer.

The boy's gift for art was spotted during painting workshops in Belgrade that were organized by local aid groups for refugees and migrants.

The Refugees Foundation, a local charity, said it sent him to an art school and photography workshop to help him develop his talents.

Noory chose to dedicate proceeds from the art he produced to help the sick Serbian boy pay for thousands of euros worth of treatments and therapy after brain surgery.

Serbian authorities say about half of the 4,000 refugees living in Serbia are children.

With reporting by AP and Blic
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