Opatovac

Back in the field, this time, we provide a charging station for mobile phones and Internet access at Opatovac refugee camp, 17 km from the Croatian-Serbian border crossing Tovarnik.

The situation is quite different here, as people are mostly brought from Bebska border crossing by bus. It is an official government camp, but people are not being registered here. We are not allowed into the camp, but since there have been too many waiting, a makeshift camp has appeared in front of the entrance, our services are requested there.

A view inside the camp across the barbed wire fence


A view inside the camp across the barbed wire fence. (Opatovac 23/09/2015)

When we arrive at the camp Wednesday at around ten in the morning though, there are almost no refugees. Only a few guys sitting in the internet tent, and a family staying in the MSF (Médecins sans Frontières) tent. We learn that there has been an official decision not to bring people here for a few hours, but that there might be an important number of refugees to expect later this day. We therefore use the quiet to tidy and clean up the area in order to be able to offer the new arrivals decent conditions.

We don't know how many people are staying inside the camp, but we watch them being sent away with many buses.

It is half past six when the first bus brings new people, who are sent into the camp straight away. We are told the they are being examined by Red Cross doctors inside and that they are requested to sign a paper stating that they will not ask for asylum in Croatia. They are standing in lines waiting to be admitted, and only few of them are entering the makeshift camp. We therefore move our services close to the lines and start distributing tea and coffee there. Many people also need clothes and shoes, particularly for children. We also help providing essential supplies.

People waiting to be admitted into the camp.


People waiting to be admitted into the camp.(Opatovac 23/09/2015)

A large number of independent volunteers are trying to help too, but in opposition to Röszke, there is no coordination, which make things more complicated for them to provide useful help. This does not mean they are not, but it demonstrates how important it is to get informed what is needed and where before showing up somewhere to help.

By the time we leave the camp, at around three in the morning, the situation remains the same.

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