Hvad sker der lige nu?

Update from Belgrade

At the end of our 3 days working with the lovely people of Remar we continued our journey onto Belgrade where the situation is quite different.
Those on the main route from Greece to Germany don't tend to stop here, travelling directly from Macedonia to Adasevci or Sid at the Croatian border.
Therefore those who find themselves in Belgrade are families passing through from Bulgaria and hundreds of single men
who are stuck in Serbia having been denied entry to Croatia.
Some have been sleeping rough here for a couple of weeks, others a couple of months as there is no established camp in the city.

After several trips to the police station to acquire the right permission we parked our Caravan in the middle of the main park where the Red Cross
and Info Park provide food and information for the refugees.
We then set up our hobs and pots for the very first time, boiled up several large batches of sweet chai and began to distribute SolidariTea!
In less then 24 hours we have given out around 500 cups of tea and spoken to many different people and heard several fascinating stories.

One Afghan man told us how he had fled Afghanistan after he saw 4 of his close friends murdered by the Taliban and told to flee or be the next target
purely because he is a Shia muslim.
The Croatian border will not let him pass however as they do not believe his papers and his story.
Having slept rough in Belgrade for 2 months whilst stuck in transit he now wants to return home but does not know how.
'But if you go back you will be killed.' I tell him.
‹Maybe, but this here in Serbia is not life. I am alive, but I am not living.›

Update from Adaševci

After we left Šentilj on the Austrian-Slovenian border we headed onto Dobova, Slovenia's opposite border with Croatia.
Unfortunately we were unable to enter the camp as independent volunteers as it's run by the police who are closely monitoring
which NGOs have an influence and presence there.
We therefore quickly drove on to Slavonski Brod, the Croatian camp near to the Serbian border and found the situation was much the same.
It was so interesting for us to see such order and police suspision at independent volunteers after our experiences in Lesvos last year;
where the authorities and international NGOs were slow and ineffective whilst the main operation was run and managed by ordinary people.
From the outside the conditions seemed adequate in both, with plenty of NGOs and charities present, yet clinical and unfriendly.

As a result we found ourselves in Serbia sooner than expected and spent 3 days working with Remar in Adaševci,
where the refugees wait for long hours for their buses to depart for the Croatian border.
We were warmly welcomed and spent our time giving out tea and soup in Remar's heated tent, collecting recipes and ideas for SolidariTea all the while.
The majority of those we met there were families, with many young children and babies, all of whom were from Syria, Iraq and Afganistan.
Since December 2015 SIA (Syrian, Iraqi and Afghani) are the only nationalities who are granted entry over the Macedonian border from Greece
and able to make the journey up into Northern Europe.

During the time we spent in Adaševci between 300-400 people came through a day.
Although the numbers are much lower than they have been, it still felt very strange to spend an 8 hour shift getting to know many
of the families waiting there, learning their names, sharing stories, playing with the children, only to arrive the next day with them gone
and a few hundred new arrivals having replaced them.
Many of those who left us were then refused entry to Croatia as a knock on affect of border restrictions entering Austria.
Those who mention reuniting with family members or the opportunity to study or work are immediately denied.
Instead only those who strictly specify that they are heading for 'Germany to seek safety due to war are granted entry.
Those who are refused are either sent back down the route or transported to detention centres with the prospect of deportation.
It's hard to imagine how frustrating it must be to spend many long weeks making this tiring, dangerous and expensive journey only to be stopped so abruptly,
so close to your final destination.
It's shocking and hearbreaking how little control these parents have over the future of themselves and their children.
Tea and soup felt a small comfort, yet none the less very much appreciated.

Update No.1

Den gestrigen Tag haben wir damit verbracht, im Camp in Šentilj an der slowenisch/österreichischen Grenze zu arbeiten.
Allerdings konnten wir hier nicht als SolidariTea arbeiten, da das Camp sehr gut organisiert und von Behörden geleitet wird,
welche bereits drei Mahlzeiten bereitstellen. In dieser Hinsicht sind die slowenischen Behörden definitiv besser organisiert und nehmen die Situation sehr ernst, viele Angestellte
die die Flüchtenden mit System und Routine über die Grenze geleiten.
Das Willkommen ist hierdurch bedingt allerdings deutlich kühler als wir es auf Lesbos zu spüren bekamen.
Die ständige Präsenz von Militär und Polizei, schwer bewaffnet mit Gewehren und Gummiknüppeln gibt dem Ganzen einen rauen Touch.

Was uns überraschte war der Unterschied, welche Rolle unabhängige Freiwillige hier im Vergleich zu unseren Erfahrungen auf Lesbos spielen.
Die Polizei und Armee auf beiden Seiten der Grenze leiten alle Aktionen, Freiwillige und großen Organisationen wie
der UNHCR und dem Roten Kreuz haben fest zugeteilte Arbeitsbereiche. Hier war es unsere Aufgabe, das freundliche Gesicht zu sein, die Flüchtenden zu begleiten, mit den Kindern zu spielen
oder mit den Erwachsenen zu reden.
Diese Aufgabe wird in Zukunft immer wichtiger werden, da Österreich täglich mehr und mehr Flüchtende ablehnt
und nach Slowenien zurücksendet, wo höchstwahrscheinlich die Deportation auf sie wartet.

Heute werden wir nach Dobovar weiterfahren, um hoffentlich an der slowenisch/kroatischen Grenze einen Einsatzort für unsere mobile Küche zu finden.