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    Posted September 8, 2015 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Europe’s migrant crisis

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    Syrian refugees arrive in Serbia after weeks of travel


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     After weeks of travel, groups of Syrian refugees made it to Belgrade, Serbia, settling in a few of the city’s public parks this week. Some of the families are sleeping in tents, while others are exposed to the elements, covering themselves with blankets and clothing, said World Vision communications officer Aida Sunje. The non-profit worker spent Tuesday interviewing and photographing several families.

    Sunje met Muhammed, 72, who was sitting on a park bench with two of his grandchildren on his lap. Muhammed was a refugee in Lebanon for three years before he returned to his native Syria. Eight months ago, he and his family escaped to Turkey and later to Greece.

    “That was the hardest – travelling by sea,” he told Sunje. “We were in a small rubber boat and travelled for eight hours. I was afraid for my life. Had the waves been bigger, we could have drowned.”

    For Sunje, the experience brought back painful memories of being a refugee herself. She was a refugee from 1992 to 1994 during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “It was very emotional for me to see these people and I pray that war in Syria ends soon,” she said.
    - zdan, CNN iReport producer

    Syrian children and their families arrived in Belgrade, Serbia tired, hungry, and cold after traveling for weeks - and sometimes months - to reach safety.

    Fadi (shown sitting with his family in the photos, third from right) was a physics professor in Syria. They’ve been traveling for nearly 3 weeks and have arrived safely in Serbia.

    “Everything got destroyed in Syria,” he said. They have no tent, and like many other families here, they have no idea where they will spend the night.

    It’s getting cold in Serbia but these refugees will likely be sleeping outside with little shelter, blankets or clothing to keep them warm.

    The refugees told World Vision that they lacked many basic things, including shoes.

    “Most of them (shoes) got destroyed during the long walks from Macedonia to Serbia,” said Aida Sunje, World Vision’s emergency communicator currently in Serbia.

    12-year-old Ahmed (shown wearing a grey sweatshirt, sitting next to his cousin Fadi) wants to go back to Syria. His parents and five siblings are still there. He cries every time he speaks with them on the phone. Ahmed’s family gathered enough money to send him out of Syria with his cousin, Fadi.

    “It is cheaper to get a child out of Syria,” said Fadi. “It costs half the price of an adult.”

    Many other families have arrived in Serbia but hope to continue further into Europe. But while they wait, they are stuck in limbo, in the cold, and wondering when they’ll ever be able to return home to peace.

    World Vision is distributing mother/baby kits with items like diapers, soap, shampoo and a toy for the child to refugees in two camps in Serbia.
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