Clothes left out to dry overnight are frozen due to extremely low temperatures, Belgrade, Serbia, Jan. 23, 2017. (Marko Drobnjakovic)
Around 1,500 migrants who have fled war and poverty in their countries in hopes of reaching Western Europe have found temporary shelter in an abandoned warehouse in central Belgrade, the Serbian capital. Men and boys from countries like Afghanistan or Pakistan have occupied the decrepit complex as they wait for an opportunity to move on toward neighboring EU nations Hungary or Croatia.
Several thousand migrants have remained stranded in Serbia since nations along the so-called Balkan route officially closed last March. The influx has been reduced, but hundreds of migrants still cross illegally into Serbia from Bulgaria or Macedonia on a daily basis before moving on, seeking the help of smugglers to cross the heavily guarded EU borders.
Aid groups have warned that migrants staying in the crumbling warehouse by the Belgrade bus station have been in danger of exposure since a spell of extreme winter weather gripped the country in early January. Migrants, including young boys and teenagers, have endured freezing temperatures. They have lit fires inside the warehouse, many inhaling smoke and toxic fumes.
Marko Drobnjakovic’s other photos of the Balkan route (and beyond) are on Instagram @xmd101:
Marko Drobnjakovic is a freelance photographer and videographer, based out of Belgrade, Serbia. He is a contributor to The Associated Press, and has covered breaking news and sports stories across Europe and the Middle East. His work includes coverage of the aftermath of the Balkan wars, the Iraq conflict from 2006 to 2009, the Ukrainian revolution of 2014 and the conflict in East Ukraine, the advance of ISIS on Iraqi Kurdistan, the European refugee and migrant crisis, and the 2016 Mosul offensive, among other stories. He is a recipient of the Magnum Foundation Fund grant and was a 2017 Pulitzer Prize finalist for AP.
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