Dutch aid for refugees in Serbia

The Netherlands has donated four ambulances and 3,850 sleeping bags to Serbia for the reception of refugees. This was announced by the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen today during her visit to the Adasevci and Sid reception centres near Belgrade.

This donation comes in response to an aid appeal by Serbia. As Ms Ploumen explained, ‘For a long time now, Serbia has been providing generous care and accommodation for hundreds of thousands of refugees travelling through this country to the EU. Recently, the influx has swelled to 90,000 people per month. In order to continue offering effective accommodation to these people, particularly through the winter months, Serbia needs extra support.’ This donation comes on top the aid already given by the Netherlands to Slovenia, Serbia and Greece, including lighting columns, camp beds and water pumps. In addition, the Netherlands has supported the Greek Red Cross and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Greece with a total of €1.5 million.

Ms Ploumen is concluding her two-day visit to Central Europe today. At her meetings with government ministers in Austria, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia the main item on the agenda was the refugee crisis. Ms Ploumen and her counterparts also discussed the position of women and children. ‘Over half of the refugees now entering Europe are women and children, and around half of these children are unaccompanied minors. It’s vital for them to receive extra protection and for registration systems to be in place so that we know who is registering, where they are, and where they are going. This will help us prevent exploitation and human trafficking.’ Ms Ploumen applauded the special programme for women and minors at the refugee camp in Traiskirchen, Austria, which she visited yesterday. ‘Women are receiving special care and training to boost their resilience. The youngest unaccompanied children are being allocated a temporary foster parent from their own country. This is one way of preventing the most vulnerable people from falling into the wrong hands.’

The minister said there had been intensive talks about the danger that the borders in Central Europe and the Balkans could be closed one by one, thereby isolating the refugees: ‘It is tempting for countries to take unilateral measures, but this will not solve the problem. The only solution is a European solution, and as the holder of the EU Presidency, this is what the Netherlands is campaigning for,’ Ms Ploumen said. This Thursday and Friday, European government leaders are meeting in Brussels to discuss a Europe-wide approach to tackling the refugee crisis.