When rain turns to snow

By Laura Reinhardt, Photojournalist with World Vision

It rained last night in Belgrade. For most of the city’s residents, the changing weather front signaled that autumn was on its way. But for the refugees and migrants staying in the parks and open spaces of Serbia’s capital city, the rains meant a miserable and cold night out in the elements, and a possible taste of things to come.

Four-year-old Nagisa was one of those out in the open. Her family slept in a tent, but it didn’t provide much protection. Instead water leaked in. Her father, Jamhsid, found some plastic to cover the tent, but by then it was too late; everything they had was soaked through.

When I met Nagisa and her family, their clothes were strewn over nearby bushes, as Jamhsid tried to dry everything out. But the day never got warm enough and the sun didn’t shine bright enough.

In the last few weeks, the temperatures in Serbia became very high. The sun beat mercilessly down on people attempting to continue their journey into Europe. But last night, it felt like something is changing. Now the seasons are beginning to march relentlessly toward the winter cold.

Earlier today, I met some groups of teenagers from Afghanistan. I was struck by the poor condition of their shoes, ground-in dirt on the soles, and the backs of the heels folded over from miles of walking that had led them to this point.

They’re in limbo, along with the thousands of other refugees - either in this park, waiting at borders, or somewhere along the road. Nagisa’s family remains stuck, too. Her father Jamhsid knows they need to make a decision, but with six adults and three children, it's going to be difficult for them to move quickly.

Winter won’t wait for them to make their next move. They need coats, warm clothes, and new shoes to withstand the cold weather when it arrives, not to mention shelter.

It’s raining again tonight in Belgrade and before long, as the temperature drops, that rain will turn to snow.

With many refugees arriving in Serbia exhausted and stressed and in need of food, water and medical attention we are hoping to reach as many people in the area as we can. So far, we have distributed baby & hygiene kits, raincoats, blankets, food and water - reaching around 12,000 men, women and children. While most refugees from the region are hosted in the countries immediately surrounding Syria, a significant proportion are still trying to reach EU countries, leading to fears for their safety as winter approaches. You can help us to deliver support and aid by donating to our Refugee Crisis Appeal.

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