September 17, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Syrian Refugees Facing New Threat From Landmines, warns Multifaith Alliance
NEW YORK, Sept. 16 – Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees face risk from unexploded landmines as they desperately seek an alternative route to a safe haven to avoid Hungary’s new anti-refugee policies, the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees warned today.
“We call on the international community and especially the European Union to take responsibility and find a safe route for these growing number of refugees who are fleeing a war zone, only to face harm from the remnants of another war,” said Multifaith Alliance founder Dr. Georgette Bennett.
“Because Hungary has closed it borders and last week instituted harsh new anti-refugee policies, tens of thousands of refugees who have crossed into Serbia have been forced to find an alternative route through Croatia—which is contaminated with thousands of unexploded munitions,” said MFA Senior Syria Advisor Shadi Martini. “This area has one of the most severe landmine problems in Europe, and now we fear the danger to innocent refugees seeking to cross it on foot.”
He predicted that 20,000 to 30,000 refugees—mostly Syrians—would choose the dangerous alternative route through the woods (see maps below) in the next week. “In the weeks ahead, the numbers could exceed 50,000,” he warned.
The unexploded munitions are left over from the war in the former Yugoslavia, which raged from 1991-1995, and reports estimate more than 50,000 landmines are scattered throughout the area.
The Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, a project of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, supports organizations that deliver direct humanitarian aid to Syrian war victims today, while planting the seeds for future stability in the region.
The suggested alternative safe route for refugees to use, as well as the train schedule.
Shows the landmine-strewn area that refugees are expected to go through close to both the Croatian-Hungarian and Croatian-Serbian borders. This is a dangerous route.
Marks the location of mines in Croatia.