two and a half months ago our team started working in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. While we are normally working in more remote areas or places savaged by war or natural disasters, a European capital city might not look like the logical place for CADUS to get active. However, the current European migration politics prevent people from crossing the border to the EU which leads to a bottle neck in Bosnia where more and more people are stuck.
Bosnia, as a country which experienced the horrors of war itself, is one of the poorest countries in Europe which means that resources to help the people fleeing are scarce. Nonetheless, we experienced some of the most heartwarming help by local people ourselves. Having seen the same horrors just a bit more than 20 years ago, they often come to us and say that they know what these people are going through as they were in the same position. While the winter here is cold, there are still some warm hearts who try their best to help.
When we arrived, there were already some other groups active here – organizations run by volunteers who were working to tackle the inhumanity of the current humanitarian crisis by various means in various places before who then came together in Bosnia when the flow changed and the need here got bigger and bigger.
BASIS Bosnia is a group of highly motivated volunteers who provide NFI (nonfood items) to the people in need. Beside blankets and clothing they are also providing showers, helping to keep personal hygiene as good as possible and therefor helping us by preventing outbreaks of many diseases. Beside that fun does not come too short and twice a week they organize football games to help everyone forget about all the sorrows for at least a while.
AidBrigade is now running a community center where they serve food twice a day. In between there are language classes and room for other activities like yoga or just playing some board games. Beside running this center, they are working hard to keep squats warm by insulating them as good and delivering wood to keep a fire in the ovens together with BASIS and Bridges across Borders.
Collective Aid is currently focusing on providing food to the people in a camp close to Sarajevo but runs a community center in Serbia as well.
During our mission, we often visit refugees in their squats, mostly makeshift prepared vacant buildings. © Oliver Wolff
While with the help of all these great organizations and their volunteers many basic needs are dealt with, one problem remains – there is often no official access to health care. Being forced to flee from home – often without any resources – brings a lot of risks for one’s health. May it be the cold, the long walk, harsh weather conditions or the blunt force at border crossings – many things can result in illnesses or injuries. We are trying our best to provide basic health care to everyone in need. During our time here we have seen many different cases but most of them have one thing in common: the injuries would not have gotten so bad would they have been treated on time. The smallest cut can become a huge problem. An infected tooth can become life-threatening. Not much is needed to make a huge impact and increase the health of our patients significantly.
Thanks to the help of the other organizations present here and the close cooperation our work is not just short-term but often we are able to improve the health of someone for a longer period of time.
Our team is motivated to keep up the work until the harshest part of winter is over and is looking for sustainable solutions for afterwards as well.
Thank you all for your support and best regards from Sarajevo,
Adrian, Head of Mission