21.10.2015 - 21.10.2015 49 °F
Arrived at the camp two days ago. Already I've witnessed signs of both monumental suffering, as well as the remarkable resiliency
of the human spirit. This place is really not camp at all. It actually functions more a transit point for those who've just crossed into Croatia from Macedonia on their way North, to what they hope will be a better life.
A couple hours of the obligitory 'red tape' behind me I now had the photo ID and bright orange vest that signified my status. I was now officially, a "volunteer". Although I'd now access to the interior of the camp, it'd be midnight before I actually went 'inside'.
The first several hours were spent preparing for what was said would be a huge number of refugess arriving inexpicably, long after dark.
We'd been told political decisions made by Macedonia and Serbia in the past 36 hrs. had dramatically changed things for the worse. Border crossings perviosuly open where now closed. Because of this 'our' location was now the sole point at the narrows of the flood. The day before I arrived all this had been made even worse by a steady downpour that lasted most of the night.
Before this site was fully operational they'd no choice but to walk the 10 miles here from the border.
Now they arrive by bus. Each one carrying many, many more people than the designed capacity.
The chaos is only slightly managed. As the busses arrive the refugees are hearded off and into a large fenced off holding area .
No information given out. Once there, they're expected just to wait, The lucky ones find a dry piece of asphalt on which to stand or sit, the others are forced to wait on the fringes, often in ankle deep mud. All this is done while the police enforce the perimeter with portable barricades. Slowly they're funnled into groups of 40 or 50 at a time toward a processing area. There's a desparate struggle by families to try and stay together. The police often show limited patience for allowing this to happen. Every few minutes there's a frantic calling out of names of as one family member gets separated from the rest as they're pushed toward the next funnel point.
In the midst of all this are the NGO's (Unicef, Red Cross, UNHCR), as well as numerous ad hoc relief groups. I'm now allied with one of the later. Together we're dozens and dozens of volunteers passing thru the massess distributing water, apples, space blankets and sweets for the children.