The cold wave that has hit Europe in the last few weeks has brought to light a reality that many civil society organisations have been warning of for a long time: the Western Balkan route has never been closed. Despite the official closing of the borders in 2016 and the EU-Turkey deal, refugees and migrants kept on fleeing to Europe through the Western Balkan route. Many among them find themselves in an even more vulnerable state than when the route was still acknowledged. Furthermore, this situation has made coordination among humanitarian organisations and the institutions providing help and services in region more complicated.
Temperatures in Serbia have fallen to -10 degrees Celsius and according to the latest details provided by the UNHCR approximately 7,000 refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants living in the country are now accommodated in heated government shelters. However at the same time, over 1,000 people are estimated to be staying in inadequate and improvised sites, among which are 300 minors. Their lives and health are at risk, and in recent weeks many deaths have been recorded as a result of the severe weather conditions both in the Western-Balkans and in Europe. This is unacceptable. SOLIDAR urges the authorities to make sure that everybody has access to dignified conditions.
In this context, SOLIDAR’s Serbian members ASB and IDC are continuing their work to provide assistance to the refugees and ensure dignified conditions for all people in need with renewed determination. The aid provided by our members consists of: warm meals three times a day for refugees in the shelters, medical assistance with a team composed of 27 doctors and nurses and the distribution of medical supplies and clothes.