Refugees in Serbia experiencing 'life-threatening conditions'

By agency reporter
January 13, 2017

Refugees in Serbia are experiencing life-threatening conditions as temperatures in the south of the country have plummeted to -30?C.

Marija Vranesevic, Programme Manager at Philanthropy – Christian Aid’s partner in Serbia, commented: "Refugees are being exposed to life-threatening conditions because of the extremely cold weather we are currently experiencing. They are also at risk of disease, as well as a flu epidemic.

"While most refugees are now staying in heated buildings, some are still outside of the camps. These people are particularly vulnerable. Every day we are seeing more and more refugees arrive. We are witnessing a visible increase in levels of anxiety and depression among the refugee population.

"The provision of food is becoming a major challenge for agencies. In this cold weather, people need access to hot, nutritious food, as well as adequate shelter and heating."

Yesterday (12 January 2017) it was reported that two Iraqi men died in Bulgaria after walking through the snow for 48 hours without access to food or water. In Greece, where temperatures have reached -14?C, an Afghan refugee has also died.

Tom Viita, Head of Advocacy at Christian Aid, said: "It’s wholly unacceptable that refugees are freezing to death, while European leaders turn a blind eye to the suffering of people on their doorsteps.

"European countries last year pledged to relocate 66,000 refugees from Greece. Yet almost a year on, only twenty per cent of them have been relocated. Across Europe the political will to act is falling desperately short of the human need.People need immediate protection. Governments and agencies need to pull together to stop people needlessly dying, and work to find effective longer-term solutions that honour everybody’s human dignity, regardless of origin."

Christian Aid partners in Serbia and Greece are currently providing hot meals, water and sanitation facilities, and cash assistance to refugee communities. In the sites in which the partners work, refugees have been moved into heated buildings.

In addition,  partners are providing legal protection services to unaccompanied children, and families, on the Greek mainland, and housing support to some of the most vulnerable refugees awaiting relocation to other countries in Europe. Christian Aid and its partners continue to provide support to refugees and displaced people in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, South Sudan, and many other countries throughout the world.

* Christian Aid


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