WHO country office provides support to migrants and refugees in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

WHO/Dragi Tarcugovski

WHO staff visiting the refugee reception center near Gevgelia.

The country continues to face an increased influx of refugees and migrants seeking to cross the country to reach Germany, Sweden and other European Union Member States further north. More than 50 000 travellers have registered with police in the southern town of Gevgelija since the asylum law was amended on 18 June 2015.

The challenge of ensuring adequate shelter, health care and humanitarian aid for an influx of this magnitude is huge, both for national and local authorities, as well as for the Red Cross and other civil-society organizations. A registration transit centre has been established at the southern part of the country near the border with Greece, where Red Cross medical teams are providing first aid to refugees and migrants.

Ever since the influx started, WHO has joined the efforts of the United Nations agencies in assisting national partners by providing appropriate care for refugees and migrants, with a particular focus on vulnerable individuals. Guidelines to the Ministry of Health on the vaccinations offered routinely to people entering the country have been provided. In addition, awareness-raising leaflets for prevention of heat waves have been developed.

As part of WHO's efforts to support the migrants, 2 joint field visits with United Nations agencies working in health took place in July and August 2015, to take a more in-depth look into the health aspects of the crisis response, identify needs and provide sound recommendations to the national health authorities.

Next steps

Currently, with WHO Country Office support, trainings are underway for 30 Red Cross volunteers to be deployed as part of the Red Cross teams that provide medical assistance in the transit registration centre in Gevgelija. In addition, WHO will support the organization of health and migration workshops for medical personnel working in the regions with increased influx of refugees and migrants to:

  • provide insight into the importance of health and migration issues
  • discuss the Ministry of Health action plan related to the current refugees situation
  • identify key problems faced by health institutions in the field in the past 3 months.

During the workshops, the status of the hospital preparedness plans in the regions and the need for regular update will also be tackled. WHO will provide further recommendations on hospital preparedness planning taking into consideration the current situation.