It is becoming clearer every day how much safer the transportation from the border is than when we first arrived.
Before any structure or order was in place at the humanitarian centers it was pure chaos. People, and almost exclusively men, were coming from all over Europe in their private cars, holding up makeshift drawn-on cardboard signs saying things like "3 seats to Romania". There was no verification of who they were, no safety checks in place whatsoever. But people were desperate and had no other options so they got in the cars. And frankly, the centers didn’t have a way to hold as many as were coming through so there truly was no other way to handle the volume. Some of those drivers were well-meaning “here to help” folks but some were ill-intentioned.
Day by day more NGOs and experienced organizations arrived and started building an infrastructure from the ground up. Literally from an empty warehouse to a full-service aid operation. They even have a pet department with a vet! The international departure area that has become one of our main bases started with 2 Italians and a table and has grown to be the central official place along the southern Polish border to get safe travel to Europe and beyond.
The center’s overall organization also grew and they implemented their own safety rules. They banned unaffiliated drivers from offering rides, implemented a wristband entry policy, required all drivers to input passport and vehicle information, and started requiring our country desks to get drivers in specific ways. Now our task is to create a detailed proposal that includes a myriad of protections for refugees as well as accommodation plans for passengers with special needs, requirements for info on the driver and sponsor organization that must be given to the passengers, requirements for NGO hiring bus companies to have an organization rep ride on every bus that goes out to ensure everything is ok.
We are so proud to be a part of this effort!