Breaking News:

Refugees suffer from freezing temperatures

by LKO, 2017/01/13

Not only in Germany the temperatures have presently dropped below freezing point and provide for snowy landscapes and icy, slippery roads. Also far more East the onset of winter has alarming consequences:

On the so-called Balkan route thousands of refugees freeze in snow and minus degrees, the cold temperatures present a severe danger for the lives of the people. Who is not already sick due to the exertions of the flight and the long wait in the basic temporary accommodations, will most certainly fall ill now under these excruciating conditions.

Up to minus 20 degrees in Serbia

In Serbia, where, according to official sources, presently live about 7.200 refugees, the situation is particularly problematic. Many of the temporary camps are not suited for the winter season and can only insufficiently supply the people with crucial resources such as blankets, furnaces and warm meals. People, who were not lucky enough to get a place in a state accommodation, are especially hard hit. They often have to seek shelter against the cold in simple tents or abandoned houses. First media reports about refugees frozen to death confirm the dramatic situation.

In the Serbian border towns Presevo and Bujanovac the humedica helpers treat daily between 50 and 120 patients. The camp in Presevo houses approximately 800 persons, mainly young refugees from Afghanistan and Pakistan, who are travelling alone.

„Many of our patients have just got through months of an extremely energy-sapping flight from the violence in their home countries. It is hard to bear that they now again must fear for their health and lives“, explains the humedica coordinator Karin Frischknecht, who, together with her local medical team, organises the health care for the refugees in South Serbia.

„We give everything to improve this dangerous situation for the people and to treat their cold-related illnesses as best and as fast as possible. But as long as the cold continues, the situation remains alarming.“

Karin Frischknecht, humedica Coordinator

Many refugees lack solid shoes and warm clothing against the cold temperatures. Photo: Christoph Jorda

Without shoes and warm clothing

In the Lebanese Bekaa valley, which is situated a few hours of flight in the South East of Presevo, the temperatures have not dropped so low under the freezing point, but also there the refugees have to face the challenges of the onset of winter. The provisory tent camps serving as accommodations for nearly one million of Syrian refugees in the Lebanon turn into icy mud pits due to the cold and wet weather.

Thanks to the comprehensive distribution of relief goods many of the tents are now provided with small furnaces, which protect the families against the cold especially during the nights. But the bad supply situation with regard to covers, warm clothing and solid shoes is also here a great problem, mirrored by the sharp increase in the number of cold-related diseases.

Vera Eibl, who coordinates the medical aid measures of humedica in the Lebanon, describes the precarious situation: „Due to the cold our mobile ambulance team members have not only to care for an increasing number of ill child and adult patients, they also have to face particular challenges with regard to work and logistics. The refugees jostle in the warmth of the tent to wait for their treatment. Just imagine: when it is storming, raining or snowing, 30 or even more sick people wait in a 20 square meter tent while two practitioners and their pharmacists try to concentrate on the careful treatment of the patients. Even more disturbing is the fact that many of the ill children, who come to our mobile clinic. lack shoes or warm clothing.“

Presently the medical teams of humedica treat most of all flu and und respiratory diseases such as coughing and bouts of pneumonia. More than 150 patients, mostly children, are cared for daily.

The need is great: in the Lebanon the humedica teams treat up to 150 patients a day. Photo: humedica

No improvement in sight

Neither in the Lebanon nor in the even more severely affected Balkan states an improvement of the weather conditions is in sight – the winter is in full swing. Please stay part of our help and support the refugees in Serbia and the Lebanon with your dedicated donation or a sponsorship. Thank you very much!

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Note: The Foreign Office of Germany supports the medical relief interventions of humedica in Serbia and the Lebanon since 2015 respectively since 2012. Besides the health care for refugees we could also organise several needs-based distributions of aid supplies in the past.

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