Refugees in Serbia face harsh winter – Emma Fowle’s reflects on her recent visit

“Last night I returned from a freezing-cold Serbia. Three days in sub-zero temperatures visiting the impromptu shelters that have sprung up across the capital as neighbouring borders have closed and refugees have found themselves stranded here, in Belgrade. The conditions were worse than horrific. Worse than anything I could have prepared myself for.”

Emma Fowle is a writer and blogger. She travelled to Serbia with Creation Fest.

“We met boys as young as 13 sleeping in car parks in the snow, bedding down under blankets that grew frost as they slept. Derelict warehouses that now sheltered clusters of men and boys in the most unsanitary, unsafe environments you could imagine. We wrapped scarves around our head as we entered, the smoke from a thousand little fires stinging our eyes and making our chests hurt. Futile attempts to stave off the cold instead poisoning lungs as thick, dark smoke belched upwards from burning wood coated in who-knows-what.”

In her 3 February blog post she reflects on the contrasts between her situation at home with her family in Cornwall and the children she spent time with in Belgrade.

“I don’t know where they’ll go, or how their stories will end, and maybe that is hardest of all. But I pray that they find peace, and safety, and a way to be with their families again – wherever that might be.”

And I pray I will never forget what I have seen, never stop feeling it, even if it does make it hard to breathe sometimes.”

You can read more about Emma’s trip on her blog and in her Friday Night Theology reflection for Evangelical Alliance.

And check out photographer Daniel Etter’s report from Belgrade for National Geographic.