Refugee crisis: a long and difficult exodus

Each day, more than 6,000 refugees fleeing war-torn countries travel along the so-called “Balkan route”, and this massive population movement results in significant humanitarian needs. At the start of October Première Urgence Internationale carried out a fact-finding mission in the region and offered initial humanitarian support in Hungary to help vulnerable people.

The race towards Europe is frantic. Every day thousands of refugees, mostly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, travel along the Balkan route, which passes through Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia. These refugees have sometimes been on the road for weeks and endure a long and difficult journey involving constant walking, a lack of shelter at night, limited access to sanitation, irregular and inadequate meals, and psychological suffering linked to the situation.

Première Urgence Internationale, alerted to the situation, travelled to the country and carried out a fact-finding mission in order to evaluate and respond to the needs of the most vulnerable groups.

On the 3rd October, Première Urgence Internationale teams carried out a support mission which helped more than 1,000 refugees at the Magyarboly train station in Hungary. Along with the Hungarian association Migration Aid, teams gave out food, bottled water and toiletries to people travelling through Europe.

When winter arrives, the health of refugees could deteriorate. The fall in temperatures and the increase in rainfall give cause for concern as they could lead to difficulties with regard to shelter, a lack of clothing and other equipment, and an increase in illness among refugees.

Following this fact-finding mission, Première Urgence Internationale has decided to direct its future interventions on the route towards the most vulnerable people, specifically those who are coming to Serbia from Bulgaria. The NGO plans to implement measures which will allow refugees to receive a medical consultation, psychosocial support and individualised assistance with kits adapted to their needs, as well as guidance on direction and information on the next stage of the journey. “Our response needs to be appropriate. We don’t want to weigh down the people on the road by giving them too much equipment, for example. Moreover, people don’t stay in a fixed location. They don’t want to stop,” states Olivier Routeau, Head of Emergencies and Development at Première Urgence Internationale. “Beyond the humanitarian crisis, what is most often noticeable is a serious lack of humanity,” he concludes.


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