I read these two stories back-to-back this morning:
The New York Times: "Winter Poses New Danger for [Refugees]."
Perhaps as soon as late October and certainly by the end of November, the season will shift in the Balkans. Finger-numbing rain, a fall fixture, will descend into snow and freezing winds, complicating and even endangering the arduous journeys starting from Syria and other war-torn nations into the heart of Western Europe.The Guardian: "More than 10,000 refugees stranded in Serbia as borders close, UNHCR says."
More than 10,000 [refugees] are currently in Serbia, stranded by limits imposed further west in Europe, the UN refugee agency said on Monday, and warned of shortages in aid.I love, ahem, the chutzpah of crowing about "Christian values" while leaving tens of thousands of people stranded without enough food, medicine, blankets, or any other basic resources. I'm not sure "No room at the inn!" was meant to be the takeaway of the central story in the New Testament.
Thousands of people clamoured to enter Croatia from Serbia on Monday after a night spent in the cold and mud, their passage west slowed by a Slovenian effort to limit the flow of refugees into western Europe.
"We can only say that there are more than 10,000 refugees in Serbia," UNHCR spokeswoman Melita Sunjic said. "It is like a big river of people, and if you stop the flow, you will have floods somewhere. That's what's happening now."
"There is a lack of food, lack of blankets, we are missing everything," Sunjic said.
...Upwards of 5,000 people are crossing the Serbian-Croatian border daily, from Greece where they arrive by boat from Turkey, into Macedonia and Serbia, which barely the capacity to cope.
A Reuters reporter on the Serbian side of the border said there was no apparent police presence to help maintain order. The refugees were cold and tired. They chanted: "Open the gate, open the gate!"
...The arrival of a projected 700,000 [refugees] this year to Europe's shores – fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia by boat across the Mediterranean and Aegean – has exposed deep and often ugly divisions in the EU.
Hungary's rightwing government says the mainly Muslim [refugees] pose a threat to Europe's prosperity, security and "Christian values", and has sealed its borders with Serbia and Croatia with a steel fence and stringent new laws that rights groups say deny refugees their right to seek protection.
Because Hungary has closed its borders, which has slowed down the passage of refugees through Europe and created this bottleneck, people are piling up in ever greater numbers, without supplies and facing life-threatening weather. It's a recipe for desperation and frustration and rage. People are going to get hurt.
People are already being hurt. And dying. And, although very few news stories about the refugee crisis will ever give it even passing mention, women and children are at inordinate risk for sexual violence and exploitation. That risk is only going to increase as the men with whom they are sharing lawless space get more angry and desperate.
The world needs to put pressure on Hungary to reopen its borders. I don't want to hear another goddamn thing about their "Christian vales" while they let people starve and shiver in escalating unsafety.