Croatian-Serbian border (06:30 am)

Report from Bapska

We are at Bapska border (Serbia/Croatia) for 5 days now. As we have taken the night shifts, I can only tell about them. Situation here is becoming more and more routine with the „czech volunteers“ (cv) apparently coordinating efforts of various players that would probably not directly talk to each other. Buses arrive on the Serbian site and wait for unloading until the cv tell them there will not be long waiting times. Refugees have to walk about 1km passing the tents of various aid organisations (most of them closed at night, atm there is only UNHCR/local partner, a christian group call OM, the „czechs“ and us). Raincapes are available, blankets sometimes scarce. There is tea and bread with jam. Toilets are very dirty though.
People with special needs (children, pregnant women, elderly, people with disabilities) get priority attention most of the time. On the croatian side there is some waiting for buses (at the moment there is a delay of about one hour), but after a terrible night with about 1500 people waiting in the cold rain, it seems to be better organized now.
Biggest problem now is the weather. The wind blows the tents apart and the rain floods them. While we have the option of retreating to a hostel, the refugees don’t have this choice.

Other problems: NGOs aren’t too enthusiastic about cooperating. Red Cross for example does not want others too use their (quite weather-resistant) tent even when they are away at night although other groups lost their tents to the wind. Sharing a power generator takes a lot of convincing talks. Providing aid as a new group is apparently seen by many as competition rather than as support. The NGOs are eager to show their logos as much as possible, sometimes you get the feeling of a trade fair.
Although there is almost no open racist comments, racist and paternalistic thinking structures are very present even with some of the volunteers and become worse with exhaustion during long shifts.

After all, from the reports we get from other places, this seems to be still one of the nicer places the refugees have to pass through.
But then again it is not really understandable why buses cannot just go directly go to the registration camp 20km from here with warm tents, food etc. Or why there has to be a registration for each of the transit countries anyways. Or why people should have to be refugees after all.