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Today 300 children and adults are still stuck in the camp of Tabanovcé at the border between Serbia and Macedonia. According to an urgent needs and protection assessment conducted last month by Terre des Hommes and Open Gate La Strada, the living conditions in the camp are appalling.

3 showers for 900 persons

The assessment results are alarming. The refugees lack everything: food, decent sanitary conditions, proper clothing, access to adequate social, educational, recreational and health services. There are only 3 functioning showers in the entire camp for an average of 900 people, out of which 49% are children. The shelters are overcrowded as this camp is designed to host a few hundred refugees for a very short period of time. The survey results also showed that children’s mental state is alarming: 61.36% of the families reported that their children were expressing abnormal or extreme emotional distress.

Terre des hommes and Open Gate La Strada are present in the camp since October 2015 to support refugee children and their families in Tabanovce. The activities include the establishment of safe spaces for children as well as provision of Non Food Items and information.

Being blocked on a closed “Balkan route”

macedonia-map_standardThe so-called Balkan route has been closed to refugees on March 8th 2016. As a result, the number of people stranded in Macedonia has amounted to 1200 in the two transit centers of the country: Gevgelija at the Greek border and Tabanovcé at the Serbian border in the North.

These transit centers were not designed to host several hundred people for long period of time. International and national agencies were not properly prepared to cover the necessary basic needs on a long run for stranded populations who require specific attention, especially since migrants and refugees are not allowed to continue further towards their final destination.

Additionally, the current legal limbo situation is creating a lot of frustration among the population. According to UNHCR, an amendment to the asylum law in Macedonia was accepted on April 4th 2016 and states that asylum seekers who entered Macedonia from a “safe country” (for instance, EU countries like Greece) will not be allowed to apply for asylum in Macedonia.

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