Help the Refugees

 

Since early September 2015 I have been helping at the refugee crisis centre in Belgrade, Serbia. This is an appeal for equipment and cash that is desperately needed to help safeguard the refugees on their journeys into Western Europe.

At the time of writing - the middle of October - there are still 3,000 to 5,000 refugees crossing into Serbia each day. From there they head to Croatia, and then onwards towards Germany. The stories from individuals are of a huge struggle, with friends and family members dying by their side. Some refugees are having their belongings taken from them by authorities before they enter Serbia, meaning they have nothing but the clothes they stand in.

This is a photo from the refugee centre, taken with Afghan friend Fahim.  On his journey he had been arrested in Bulgaria for being an asylum seeker, his belongings stolen by the police, and many of his travelling partners killed in a car crash.  He had spent a week eating nothing but leaves, and had not heard from his family in 12 days.  I hope that by now he has settled in Germany and been reunited with his brothers and sisters.

As winter is upon us, so the refugees are facing temperatures around freezing, and which may plummet towards -20C over the coming month or so. These are not adventurers or explorers with clothing and equipment suitable for their overland journey. These are people who fled for their lives with only what they had available in their homes, and the cold of the desert lands will not have prepared them for the cold of a European winter in a tent. As a consequence, it is a desperate state at the Serbian border, with refugees arriving cold and wet, at risk of hypothermia and worse. Many carry young children and infants, to whom the risks are even greater.

People throughout Serbia have donated clothes, but we really need warm blankets, sleeping bags, insulating mats and rucksacks. We are unable to transport winter clothes or shoes across the borders, due to customs regulations. In any case, this is an appeal for warm blankets, sleeping bags, insulating mats and rucksacks. It is also an appeal for cash donations - any funds pledged to this website in October and November will be used for the refugee crisis. We need funds for fuel and the ferry crossing, and above this to buy clothing, food and medical supplies once we are in Serbia.

 

 

 

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