VELIKA KLADUSA: Refugees stuck in Bosnia, their long journeys already packed with confusion and misery, are now facing one more adversity in the snow freezing Balkan winter.
Many migrants living in make-shift tent settlements in western Bosnia have been trying to remain dry and warm as the first snow of the season falls this week.
The migrant tents outside the town of Velika Kladusa, cobbled together from scraps of nylon and backed with sticks, are a bad cover for the people living inside.
The tents are damp and cold, bent under thick snow, while small fires give meagre warmth. Migrants wear woollen hats and rain jackets, but that isn’t enough for them.
“It’s very cold now, we had a very big problem last night,” said Bangladeshi 30-year-old Shahin, who gave only his first name as usual for migrants crossing borders illegally. “We suffer so much, we have no place to sleep.” Refugees often migrate to Western Europe for months if not years, from the Middle East, Africa or Asia.
Thousands have been stranded in Bosnia, mainly in the western part of the country that borders Croatia, a member of the European Union. Migrants trying to enter Croatia, reportedly facing pushbacks and abuse at the hands of Croatian authorities, take illicit routes through mountain passes.
The snow evidently took the migrants by surprise at the make-shift camp in Polje, near Velika Kladusa, as they left their belongings unprotected clothes blanketed with snow that had been hung out to dry after washing, and the boots and shoes were soaked inside and out.
Some migrants were trying to cook some food, dry their clothing or just warm their hands in the freezing cold as they huddled by the fires on Wednesday.