One more winter on the Balkan route: Youth for Peace and solidarity to refugees at the gates of the Fortress Europe

Humanitarian Aid Mission, from the cities of north-east Italy

Another winter. For the young migrants who have reached the gates of Europe on the Balkan route, the cold is back and the despair of not being able to see the end of their journey dramatically rises. With two different missions, the Youth for Peace from Padua, Bologna and Trieste are there to tell them that they are not forgotten.

This is not the first time they have crossed the border "backwards", to visit migrants from Pakistan, Nepal, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and many other countries of the Middle East, forced to remain in very precarious conditions and not at all dignified, in the cold, out of power and in the mud. With some of them, after more than a year of constant visits and humanitarian aid missions, a friendship was born. In fact, there are not many who have managed to overcome the barrier - thin but resistant - that separates them from the countries of the European Union.

Many young migrants have tried the "game" several times, some even 35, often being rejected by force and suffering abuse and violence both verbal and physical. For some, the journey ended too soon: Ijaz, a 22-year-old Pakistani boy died the 29th  December while trying to cross a river, in the middle of the night. He drowned under the eyes of his friends. In the account of those who knew him it is clear that his death was completely ignored and the necessary aid has not been provided, not even to recover the body.

For him, and for the other migrants who lost their lives along the way, both groups of Sant'Egidio stopped at the cemetery of Bihac to pray in front of the nameless tombs.

In the territory of Bihac there are about 1500 migrants, among those living in the institutional camps, such as those of Lipa and of Borici, and the “squats” - abandoned houses and isolated camps in the woods where life is extremely hard.

For a year now Sant'Egidio has established strong bonds of friendship with the migrants who live in these places, returning on a monthly bases to visit them. During the holiday season, the Youth for Peace brought gifts and celebrated Christmas with many children and families. On the wall of one of the squats is written "Fight fortress Europe". Solidarity and constant presence are concrete ways to erode, in a peaceful and constructive way, the wall of "fortress Europe".