Win­ter poses new dan­gers for mi­grants stranded in Balkans

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

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

AP

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