Migrants prepared “to die on journey of death” to reach EU

Aid workers distribute food and water to migrants on the Macedonian border as they wait to continue on what one Syrian refugee calls “a journey of death” to reach the European Union.

GEVGELIJA, MACEDONIA (AUGUST 29, 2015) (REUTERS) – As the flow of migrants and refugees along the Balkan route continues, aid workers distributed food and water to migrants arriving near the southern Macedonian town of Gevgelija on Saturday (August 29).

Aid workers toiled all day in searing heat to help mainly Syrian refugees resting in a makeshift camp near the town after crossing into Macedonia from Greece.

The migrants waited for a government commissioned train, which leaves twice a day, to take them north to the country’s border with Serbia, the next stop on what one Syrian refugee called “a journey of death.”

“We understand death is here. We are prepared to die, this is a journey of death and we know we don’t even have a 1 percent guarantee of making it. We call this a journey of death, not a vacation. In Greece, they left us (to die) like dogs. The first time our engine stopped running, the Greeks were nearby but they didn’t even look at us, they left us to drown, then the Turks came to rescue us. We suffered a lot,” said Ahmad.

Prepared to stake everything on their search for a better life, most of the migrants and refugees are heading for Germany and other western European countries.

“We are prepared and ready on this journey to Europe just to try and make it there. We are aware that there are people out to steal from us and to scam us, but we are walking together in a group. We are walking as young men at the front of the group, leaving our women and children in the middle and we again have young men (at the back) so we can reach Germany,” said another Syrian refugee, Mohammad.

According to official estimates by the Macedonian government, some 2,500 migrants took the train to travel towards the northern border on Saturday alone, with the flow of people fast approaching UN estimates which said about 3,000 people per day would be moving along the Balkan route in the coming months.

After passing through Macedonia and entering Serbia, the last leg on their journey to get into the EU’s Schengen passport-free area is Serbia’s northern border with Hungary. The authorities there are scrambling to reinforce border fences in an effort to stem the influx of migrants.