The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) says thousands of migrants trekking through the Balkans are “in desperate need of basic humanitarian services and support.”
IFRC said Monday, “More than 5,600 people have reached Bosnia and Herzegovina since the beginning of January, compared with just 754 across the whole of 2017.”
“We are concerned that people are not receiving the assistance they need,” said Simon Missiri, IFRC regional director for Europe. “People are keen to keep moving and are reluctant to access state services for fear of being detained.”
Missiri said, “Red Cross Societies in the Balkans are doing what they can to reach and help people migrating through their territories, but the scale and complexity of this operation is such that more assistance is needed.”
The Red Cross said 100 of its volunteers in northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina are serving hundreds of hot meals everyday at an abandoned university campus where they are also distributing sleeping bags, clothes and hygiene kits and are providing medical assistance to people who have been “sleeping in the open.”
Bosnia and Herzegovina, the statement says, “is the most mine contaminated country in Europe” and “some mine fields are still active in the areas where people are trying to cross the border.” Red Cross volunteers are distributing flyers to warn the migrants about the danger.
“These people are extremely vulnerable,” said Missouri. “Regardless of their migration status, they, like everyone, should be able to access basic services, and should be protected from harm.”