Caritas Internationalis is launching an emergency appeal to provide hot meals, better hygiene and winter clothes and shoes to refugees and migrants crossing Macedonia.
The appeal for €500,000 will provide aid to the most vulnerable over a 6 month period. It’s part of Caritas emergency operations across Europe.
Kostadin Hristov, Caritas Macedonia Emergency Coordinator, said, “The challenges are the numbers of people and the worsening weather. Many of these people have been through war. They deserve to be treated like our brothers and sisters. Our priority is to give them a warm meal and clothes to help protect against the winter.”
In October, more than 5,000 people per day crossed the country. They’re part of a mass exodus that’s seen over 700,000 people cross the Mediterranean in 2015 in Europe’s largest refugee crisis since the second world war.
They travel by makeshift boat, bus, train and foot through Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia on their way to other European destinations. As the weather worsens, many are facing cold temperatures in open spaces.
They’re travelling with almost nothing, mostly staying from a few hours to a day in each stop.
At least 85 percent are from the top ten refugee producing countries, such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Most are men, but around 40 percent are women and children.
Caritas Macedonia will work in reception centres on the southern border with Greece, on the northern border with Serbia and in the capital Skopje. They will focus on helping women and children as they make the hazardous journey.
A field kitchen in the Vinojug reception centre in Gevgelija on the Greece border will ensure that 500 cold and tired people will have hot soup, bread and hot tea each day. In Tabanovce on the border with Serbia, the migrants and refugees will receive food packs as they spend less more time there.
Volunteers will also provide hygiene items for women and children, and winter jackets, boots and hats. In order to help prevent human trafficking abuse and exploitation, Caritas will share useful information.
The appeal also includes some support for disadvantaged Macedonian families.