—This small town of about 13,000 residents is the first entry point into Serbia for about 90 percent of the more than 6,000 migrants who have been entering the country since mid-October.
In the video below, Katherina Ebel, a correspondent with SOS Children’s Villages (SOS) Germany, visits the refugee registration point in Preševo to document the plight the migrants face in crossing Europe. She also speaks with Igor Gilanji, the SOS emergency response coordinator in Serbia.
Migrant Crisis: SOS in Serbia
As part of her 2-week reporting trip along the migrant route to Europe, Katharina Ebel, an SOS correspondent, stops in Presevo, Serbia, to document the many challenges that migrant children and families are facing on their journey through Europe. Thanks to SOS-Kinderdorf for sharing the video! [CLICK the CC for English subtitles]
Posted by SOS Children's Villages - USA on Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Make sure to click on “CC” in the bottom right for English subtitles.
According to the UNHCR, more than 752,066 migrants have reached Europe in 2015 via the Mediterranean Sea, by far the most common route to Europe. In 2014, the number was just 216,054. And because travel will become much more difficult as winter approaches, the number of migrants taking to the sea has increased dramatically in the past few months. In October alone, there were 218,953 migrants who made the trip.
The vast majority of migrants, half of whom come from Syria, arrive first to Greece. From there, they head to Macedonia and then to Serbia. They spend an average of three days in Serbia before moving on to Croatia en route to Germany, Austria, Sweden and other, wealthier European nations in which they hope to find refuge. Migrants had been crossing from Serbia into Hungary before Hungary closed its border in September.
In Serbia and other countries along the migrant route in Europe, SOS emergency response teams have begun providing relief to the migrants, with a particular focus on vulnerable children. In Serbia, it is estimated that one in four children who enter the country enter without parental care. There have also been reports of parents leaving their kids behind in Serbia in order to move at a quicker pace to their final destinations.
Migrant children color and draw in Belgrade, Serbia, at a child-friendly space set up by SOS Children’s Villages Serbia. Photo credit: Maja Simić
In Serbia, SOS is operating a 12-month, emergency response plan to provide relief to migrants, focusing on young children who have no parental care. Services include:
- Safe space for children in Belgrade (pictured above)
- Weekly distribution of food packages via mobile teams dispatched to multiple border crossings
- Weekly distribution of non-food items such as blankets, socks, hygiene kits and blankets via mobile teams dispatched to multiple border crossings
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