11th September 2015
– Thursday 10 September
Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Assistance Response Team Members Ralph Springett and Dr Nathalie McDermott are in Macedonia to establish how to provide assistance for the refugees. Their accounts from their first day are below:
On a bridge heading into the town of Gevgelija, just across the border from Greece, thousands have congregated. The refugee processing centre is on one side of the bridge and the town on the other. Normally the refugees are placed on trains by the processing centre which brings them across Macedonia to the Northern border with Serbia. But today, the train drivers are on strike as they have not been paid by the government for several months.
Last night, between 6pm and 8am, approximately 4500 refugees crossed the border. With few trains to put them on, they are crossing the bridge into the town to get buses that the government has put on as a replacement. Each day over the last few days approximately 5000-7000 people have been crossing the border.
At the moment, it is raining and the temperature in the middle of the day is around 15 degrees celsius. People are wet, cold and exposed. Last night there were big concerns for the children and small infants as they had no blankets, some were distributed at the processing centre but only to small infants/young children. Infants are wrapped in plastic bags to protect them from the rain.
Clothing is inadequate for the current temperature and the looming drop in temperateness which will follow in the next few weeks. Soon it will not be possible for people to sleep outdoors as they will be at significant risk of hypothermia – particularly infants, young children and the elderly.
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