A large number of Afghans and Pakistanis, stuck in Serbia and reluctant to enter government-run facilities, have found shelter in empty warehouses behind the central bus station. Living conditions are dire. The main building is a large concrete shell with a leaking roof. The windows are broken and let in cold draughts, but not enough fresh air to counteract the thick smoke from the many small fires lit for heat and cooking. Some people sleep outside to escape the smoke and noise at night, but with winter coming, they will not be able to do so for very much longer. Hot Food Idomeni, an NGO that originally started work in Idomeni camp in Greece, distributes food at lunchtime, parking its van between two of the warehouses and handing out around 1,200 hot meals per day. More details here.
Looking at me
To break the deadlock in Afghanistan’s 2014 presidential election, the UN oversaw an unprecedented 100% audit of all ballot boxes. The audit took place in four large, hot hangars. Candidate agents from the two runner-up candidates pored over tables of laid-out ballots in search of “identical markings” as indicators of mass ballot stuffing. Emotions ran high. There were fights and walk-outs, but also new friendships forged and a sense of purpose.
Walking around with a camera meant attracting attention. Almost all pictures turned out to have people in them – in the background, or close by – who were keeping track of where I was and what I was doing. Their gazes are a fairly good reflection of the atmosphere of those long weeks.
Searching your bags
In Afghanistan most entrances to buildings – and even closed-off roads – have little booths where women search your clothes and check your bags. If you carry a large camera, they often want you to prove it actually works.
Some of them don’t mind having their picture taken.