Winter poses new dangers for migrants stranded in Balkans
A migrant walks inside an abandoned warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, on Wednesday. About 1,000 migrants occupied the rubbish-strewn, sprawling complex in search for protection from cold and rain. BELGRADE, Serbia (AP): OHAMMAD YASSIN says there are no words to describe the horror of migrant life in an abandoned warehouse in central Belgrade, home to hundreds of people trapped in Serbia en route to the European Union.
The 28-year-old former news reporter from Afghanistan has been squatting for days in the socialist-era concrete hall in the capital city, waiting for a chance to cross the heavily guarded borders of neighbouring EU member states Hungary or Croatia.
About 1,000 migrants have
Moccupied the rubbish-strewn, sprawling building seeking protection from cold and rain. But the crumbling warehouse, with no plumbing, wide glassless windows and gaping holes in the towering wooden roof, has offered little shelter.
“We don’t have (a) proper place to sleep or to eat or to drink water, we don’t have warm water to take bath,” Yassin said. “We are suffering too much hardship ... too much.”
Aid groups have warned that thousands of people like Yassin are scattered throughout the Balkans and in Greece, living in unheated tents, overcrowded camps and other substandard conditions that are becoming more inappropriate with the rapid advance of winter.
PEOPLE AT RISK
“Children, the elderly and other vulnerable people may die on European soil this winter unless urgent action is taken,” the International Rescue Committee said in a statement this week.
Many of the homeless migrants set out hoping to get to EU countries, but remain stuck along the former Balkans route – leading from Turkey through Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia – after