Chilly climate will increase well being dangers for refugees and migrants in Serbia and different nations within the Area

As temperatures persist in the WHO European Region, conditions are worsening for the most vulnerable, including refugees and migrants stranded in countries. When refugees and migrants sleep outdoors or in cold shelters at temperatures below 16 ° C, they are prone to hypothermia, frostbite and other health problems. Their risk increases if they lack adequate clothing, food and medical care. The elderly, children, people with health problems and people who abuse alcohol are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the cold.

Representatives from the WHO Regional Office for Europe visited the informal settlements near the main train station in Belgrade, Serbia, which are currently home to around 1200 refugees and migrants. The international community and aid organizations are providing heaters, blankets, clothing and food in Serbia and other affected countries to prevent the negative health effects of the freezing weather. However, there is an increasing need for support to ensure adequate housing and safe living conditions for the refugee and migrant population temporarily living in Belgrade and to improve coordination between national authorities, the international community and non-governmental organizations.

As part of its work to implement the recently adopted Strategy and Action Plan on Refugee and Migrant Health, the WHO Regional Office for Europe is deploying additional staff on the ground to provide assistance.

WHO recommendations to prevent the negative effects of cold weather

The main preventive measure in cold weather is to reduce exposure to the cold by providing heated accommodation, hot meals and appropriate clothing. Refugees and migrants should be educated about the risks associated with cold and living in a changed environment.

Exposed individuals can protect themselves by wearing layers of warm clothing, covering their hands, feet and head, warming up their food, drinking enough but avoiding cold beverages, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, exercising and standing or sitting for long periods of time avoiding the cold. If you are using solid fuels (such as charcoal, wood, or coal) for cooking and heating, you will need to ensure that the room is ventilated. You should look out for warning signs of frostbite on the skin (numbness in the fingers and toes and pale spots on the face or other areas of the skin) and warm the area immediately.

Particularly vulnerable groups must be taken into account. A flu vaccination should be carried out and colds should be recognized and treated. The negative health effects of cold weather are largely avoidable, but the short delay between the onset of extreme weather and its health effects makes planning and preparation essential.

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