Serbia: helping refugees at border crossing points

Source: The Serbian Network of Organizations for Children of Serbia – NOCS

28 October, 2015


More than 644,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Europe by sea this year, UNHCR reports. Of these, 34 per cent are women and children who are particularly vulnerable to abuse as they transit Europe, says the same source.
The influx of migrants arriving in Serbia has increased in comparison to the second week of October from 4.500 to over 6.000 a day. Our partners from the field report that during last week, there were more and more women, children, unaccompanied children, sick people and people with disabilities.

Know How Center, member of the Network of Organizations for the Children of Serbia NOCS, started its field work in Sid and Subotica at the beginning of October. The Center is working in the cooperation with the German aid and welfare organisation  ASBDanish People Aid and IDC – Initiative for Development & Cooperation Serbia from Belgrade.

Know How Center has gathered medical activists to provide medical assistance as well as the support to mothers with little children, pregnant women and breastfeeding women.  They have ten activists, both men and women. Three of them are on duty at the border crossing in Bapska, Sid municipality, every day. This border crossing is very small and the surroundings are completely inadequate to organize any kind of infrastructure to provide a fairly decent place to accommodate people who are in transit and spend several hours there.

The influx of migrants has increased in comparison to the second week of October from 4.500 to over 6.000 a day. Our partners from the field report that during last week, there were more and more women, children, unaccompanied children, sick people and people with disabilities. As winter is coming, the condition of people who are coming is becoming more and more difficult.

„Last week, the migrants who came from Presevo were slightly better dressed. Ten days ago, we have stumbled across children who were completely naked, wrapped up in blankets that were given to their parents by the UNHCR“, says Tatjana Lazor, CEO of Know How Center.

People are brought to the border crossing by buses. Various bus lines are bringing the migrants only to the bottom of some hill, after which they have to climb the hill for two more kilometers in order to enter the transit zone.

„Why don’t the buses take them directly to the transit zone? What we
hear is that buses leave their passengers at the foothill as soon as they arrive there because this way buses can leave the premises more easily“,
says Tatjana.  

Border crosses have no infrastructure whatsoever and are often placed in the middle of the private corn fields. Refugees sleep on concrete surfaces, covered with thin blankets. They make the fire by burning  anything they can get their hands on, from toys to blankets, in order to warm up at least a little. They are surrounded by mud. They mostly complain to activists about high fever, headache, stomachache, sore throat and ear pain.  They are eating apples which are divided in half.

„Lots of children are crying and screaming because they are pushed by the adults who are rushing towards the border. Children are crying and complaining that they are really cold“, Tatjana continues.

The activists from Know How Center point out there are also lice and parasite infestation cases among the migrants and many of them complain of stomachache. The situation got slightly better last Friday since migrants did not sleep on the concrete surfaces anymore, but under the tents provided by the UNHCR.

If you wish to support Know How Center activities, please contact Vesna Cvjetanovic at cvjetanovic.vesna@gmail.com.