Macedonia September 10, 2015 Refugee Crisis in Europe
By Dalibor Tasevski, Project HOPE’s Regional GIK Manager/Disaster Response Coordinator
Macedonia is one of the three most impacted Balkan countries involved in the refugee crisis. Macedonia is on the pathway to Europe for thousands of Syrian, Afghan, Iraqi and numbers of African refugees. The refugees cross the Mediterranean Sea generally going to Greece, then through Macedonia and Serbia usually reaching Hungary. According to the latest statistics, the number of refugees traveling through Macedonia is rising from a couple of hundred to couple of thousands per day.
The Macedonian Government has given exceptional effort to make the short stay of these individuals as safe as possible. There is organized transportation from the border with Greece (in Gevgelija, Macedonia) to the border with Serbia (in Kumanovo) as well as two refugee rest camps on both borders. The camp in Gevgelija, where all refugees are registered, and where most spend at least couple of hours, has a well-equipped Military Container Ambulance Room where there are 24/7 rotation teams of a medical doctor and a nurse. There is also a daily hospital, equipped very basically, at the General Hospital in Gevgelija, where all urgent cases are taken to for further examination if need be. The plan of the Ministry of Health is to replicate this system in Kumanovo, but with limited resources it is still in planning phase. The camp in Gevgelija has poor sanitation infrastructure and all involved institutions are working on resolving this issue.
The number of refugees in Macedonia, since September 9, 2015 has reached 6,000 thousand (per day) and the same number is expected tomorrow. According to official sources this number will be increasing. The main transportation for the refugees through Macedonia has been the railway, but unfortunately there is a strike and refugees are having to find other modes of transportation, including by foot, to travel to the Serbian border.
Meetings with Ministry of Health Officials
The Ministry of Health is providing necessary medicines and medical supplies for the refugees, as much as they can. The government does not have set aside reserves for this crisis. Instead, they are using the annual resources of the country planned for the inhabitants. There is fear that soon there will be shortages of medicines and supplies. At this moment it is crucial to secure disinfectants, hand sanitizers, gauzes, small emergency packages, beds, bed sheets, analgesics, antibiotics, antipyretics, Hep B vaccines and tetanus vaccines. Urgently needed equipment includes a mobile echography and defibrillators. There is also need of medical personnel.
HOPE Action Steps
A Project HOPE team will visit the camp in Gevgelija on September 11, 2015 and do an initial field assessment and provide all the necessary information from the camp and the Hospital.
The team will also visit the Hospital in Gevgelija that is a long-term partner of Project HOPE’s Strategic Medical Resupply Program. This institution is providing most of the medical help and has a separate department in their hospital for treatment of refugees.
The Ministry of Health will provide Project HOPE with a list of needs regarding medicine, supplies, equipment and types of doctors and nurses needed for a possible volunteer response.
The Project HOPE office in Macedonia will create an initial selection of products from existing inventory and develop the first shipment for Macedonia.