A Bottleneck in Europe for Families Fleeing Violence

family at Serbian border

A family at the Serbia-Macedonia border, where families from Syria and other countries in strife are attempting to cross to freedom and safety. Photo courtesy of Terre des Hommes-Lausanne. 

In January and early February, Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch reporter Zachary Reid traveled through Turkey, Greece, Serbia, Macedonia and Hungary with ChildFund staff members, as we took stock of the situation facing refugees and migrants from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries. Reid’s first story, published Feb. 14, shows the complex situation families face as they enter ports in Greece, the first stop in the European Union for many.  

As months of news reports have shown us, the journey to Europe can be arduous and dangerous, especially for children, but the risks don’t end there. For several months, ChildFund has worked with Terre des Hommes-Lausanne, a group of Swiss non-governmental organizations focused on child protection, as its staff helps families passing through Serbia and Macedonia. Many are vulnerable to traffickers, and the majority need clean clothes and other basics. 

The numbers continue to grow, with no end in sight. 

“Last year, 853,650 refugees arrived in Greece by sea, mostly from Turkey, according to the International Organization for Migration,” Reid writes. “That was a 1,075 percent increase from 2014, when 72,632 people arrived. An additional 68,778 people arrived from Jan. 1 to Feb. 3 this year, despite bad weather and rough seas for much of that period.”

During the next two Sundays, Reid’s stories will focus on the promise of better lives in Europe, and ChildFund’s expanding mission to protect children in global emergencies. Stay tuned! 

 

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