Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Syria: Refugees Impact On Macedonia

          In my previous post I described how much I enjoyed Belgrade with my fellow PCV's.  However, I left a large part of our experience out of that post because it deserves it's own forum.  While traveling to Belgrade, and in the city, I was deeply impacted by the exodus and migration of the Syrian refugees through Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and into Hungary.  I'm not sure exactly how much media coverage is being covered on this issue, I've been told it's a lot, but I do know that people have been seeing reports concerning Macedonia.
          I want to emphasize that this post isn't about the greater problem of how the EU is "attempting" to process the refugees but is only about how their migration is impacting Macedonia and Peace Corps. Click here to read more on the former topic.*  
          As we traveled from Skopje to Belgrade I woke up early to freshen up thinking we were close to Belgrade. As I opened my sleeper car I looked to my left and saw five people sleeping on the end of the car.  Between us was a glass door locked by a deadbolt.  Looking at them I immediately knew who they were.  They were doctors, lawyers, teachers, mechanics, business owners, parents, sons, mothers, daughters who had left their country because if they hadn't they would have been killed.  When they left they knew they'd most likely never return home. 

A man without a home.

All of these refugees were waiting for the next train out of Belgrade.
          You might have seen several news reports about police clashing with the refugees along the Macedonian border.  The problem for Macedonia is the sheer number of people attempting to cross the border.  Right now it's averaging 3,000 a day, with 44,000 crossing in the past two months alone.  That is a huge number of people for a country that has the infrastructure to transport about 800 people a day.  Following the border crash with police, Macedonia set up camps outside of the train station to place people as they are waiting for the trains.
           Greece, likewise, is challenged with this influx of refugees and moves them quickly across the border into Macedonia.  Obviously, that creates more strain on Macedonia but the government has opened the border and is allowing a 72 hour "pass" for refugees to travel through Macedonia.  
          Now, how is this impacting Peace Corps Macedonia? Volunteers that are along the transport line from Greece to Serbia are more likely to see the refugees but are not in any danger.  I am not impacted by their journey.  However, the impact of each refugee, their lives and their family's life as they journey through Macedonia into Europe will continue for many years to come.

*"Again, the contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the US Government or Peace Corps."

No comments:

Post a Comment