Dark and smoky shelters for refugees stranded in Serbia

Fearful of deportations at official camps, refugees in Serbia find cover in make-shift shelters.

| | Refugees, Serbia, Humanitarian crises, Europe

Belgrade, Serbia - Hundreds of refugees, mostly from Afghanistan and Pakistan, are living in miserable conditions in makeshift camps and abandoned warehouses in Serbia.

At a warehouse behind the Belgrade train station, the conditions are deplorable. Refugees seeking shelter here brave winter temperatures that can drop to minus 15C, surrounded by mud, snow and ice, and a relentless cold wind blowing through its tunnels and broken windows.

The air inside the warehouse is saturated with the smoke from the fires they use to stay warm.

People sleep on the ground, wrapped in blankets distributed by volunteers, while surrounded by rubbish and other waste. The sound of coughing echoes through the space.

They have no access to showers, lavatories or other facilities. They wash and bathe using water warmed up in old barrels set up on fire pits outside.

A group of volunteers works each day to provide one warm meal for those stranded here.

The refugees say that they don't want to stay in Serbia, They want to reach Germany, France, Italy or Britain,  but they  are staying at the warehouse because they fear they will be deported if they go to the official government camps.

But, they cannot move on. Serbia's borders with Croatia and Hungary remain closed.

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