A Travellerspoint blog

Chaos

overcast 40 °F

We're told, conditions in Serbia are even more desperate.

CNN link

http://cnn.it/1RRr8uD

Headed today to the villiage of Bapska where we hope to walk with blankets and food stuffs 1-2
km's across the border

Posted by Coulter Adams 22:38 Archived in Croatia Comments (3)

Refugee Camp / Opatovac, Croatia

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.

Posted by Coulter Adams 00:19 Archived in Croatia Comments (2)

Bosnia

overcast 60 °F

I'm in Mostar, Bosnia. Known to the world for the destruction to it's iconic footbridge in the Bosnian war of '92-'95.
I'm here awaiting an update from the aid organization that I've been in touch with. It's a fluid situation. Like their occupants, the camps seem to be in motion. Last week was told I should plan to head near the border with Macedonia. A few days ago learned I may be needed closer to the border with Croatia. Hope to have some confirmation by morning.

Just recieved the confirmation I've been hoping for...
After a stop off In Sarajevo tomorrow AM to buy as many plastic rain poncho's as I can find, I'm on to the village of Opatovac, Croatia which lies on the banks of the Danube separating it from Serbia.

Posted by Coulter Adams 10:54 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina Comments (6)

Izmir, Turkey

sunny 67 °F

Very intermittent internet availability and my difficulities in getting this web based blog app, makes
posting updates quite a challenge.

The ubiquitious 5" screen is everywhere. Seems the Turks have adopted technology with enthusiasm that on it's own, might fund large parts of Silicon Valley. My most recent trip here was only 5 years ago. The change is breathtaking. Large parts of what not long ago was an agriculture based economy is quickly being replaced with a Turkish version of American strip malls, and mega factory outlet stores. In short, I've found it just takes a bit more effort to find the true soul of this wonderful country.

In a tiny restaurant perched on a hillside next to ruins of temples dating back to the 4th century B.C. I'd dinner with a young Turkish couple. Our dinner of fresh caught fish, local cheese, lamb, tomatoes, and humus was the perfect backdrop for what became nearly 3 hours of sharing our views of the world. My new friends were both finishing their PhD's. His, in Philosophy hers, in cultural anthropology. Originally from Istanbul, they'd recently become fearful of the political instability and weary of chaotic city life. A year ago they moved to this small village and began operate a 4 room bed and breakfast inn, which is where I found them. 

Our dinner conversation soon turned to the recent bombing in Ankara, President Erdogan's increasingly repressive and corrupt tenure and enevitably to the growing instability caused by the war just over the border in Syria. They both agreed the growing threat posed by ISIS frightened them most of all.

The next day I continued my journey north. My plan was to take an tiny isolated road that hugged the rocky coast. Just as I was getting close to the point where the Greek island of Samos came into view I was forced to turn back. The Turkish army had put up a temporary blockade. No doubt to prevent any more refugees from making a dash for Europe.

Posted by Coulter Adams 07:48 Archived in Turkey Comments (2)

Rhodes, Greece / Marmaris, Turkey

sunny 70 °F

===The island of Rhodes at the crossroads of two major sea routes of the Mediterranean. the Aegean Sea and the coast of the Middle East, has made it a meeting point of three continents. It's location has put it at the crossroads of trade, religion and at times war since the 4th Century B.C.

I'm now on the Turkish mainland. To date I've had little success connecting with aid agencies operating in Turkey . My plan is to move up the coast toward the city of Izmir and search for camps where I might be of help.

I've had greater success with an aid agency now in operating in both Croatia and Bosnia. I've made arrangements to be in Bosnia next week with some of the supplies they've requested.===

PS
Having trouble loading photo's into this blog which is why there are so few to date.

Posted by Coulter Adams 19:03 Archived in Turkey Comments (3)

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