Going into our third winter serving food to displaced people in Northern France we found a rare window to take a trip to Bosnia to meet the groups working on the ground and to see what we can possibly do to help.
We drove from Calais through many borders France / Germany / Austria / Slovenia / Croatia finally arriving in Bihać and Velika Kladuša in Northern Bosnia close to the border of Croatia, where hundreds of refugees are on their journey, walking from their homes in Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Nepal, Algeria, Morocco, all of them walking through many dangerous lands looking for peace and safety.
We met with many grassroots groups and volunteers working on the ground who are self-funded, self- motivated and in need of support. All these groups welcomed us with open arms and what we came to know as pure Bosnian hospitality. They showed us their kitchens, explained their operations, their challenges and took precious time out to explain the complicated situation in Bosnia after the war.
Most of these grassroots organisations are supported by an integral umbrella organisation called Pomozi.ba who met with us and explained more in depth how and where we could help in Sarajevo, where they are a lifeline with food aid and much needed strategical support.
There is some support being offered by the Red Cross, MSF, IOM and Emmaus who are serving basic food with very limited nutrition, as well as all other aid services.
Apart from the support that all these groups need we learnt how the Bosnian people, police and authorities are tolerant and kind to refugees as they pass through their poor country. They have great empathy for the displaced people as it's not been long since they as a nation were in the same situation, cold, hungry, displaced and traumatised.
Many refugees are being supported in derelict uninhabitable buildings, in small camps with only plastic tarps and basic wooden framed shelters and many many more are sleeping outside in the woods, which are extremely dangerous and full of mines and bears.
We have been touched and moved and will, with your help, work towards supporting these groups in what is expected to be a very difficult winter with temperatures dropping regularly to -10º / -20º. The cold is just around the corner with temperatures going into the minus at night from next week.
How you can help right now?
DONATE: The groups on the ground need financial donations to buy tents, high quality sleeping bags, warm clothing, food and other essential items as buying aid as locally as possible is essential.
Please check out the work these groups are doing and support them where you can.
Refugee Community Kitchen will update soon on how we will be supporting the people in Bosnia and the surrounding areas.