I had never thought or imagined that I would be doing a story involving war refugees on my own doorstep. Slovenia was suddenly faced with a massive influx of refugees. For the villagers of Rigonci on the Croatian border, it was a catastrophe.
Refugees is a story told from the perspective of Europeans whose lives have changed overnight. They couldn’t sleep, they couldn’t go to school, in the night there were helicopters circling overhead. Rigonci, a village of 176 inhabitants, became a point of crossing for 70,000 migrants en route to Germany and Austria in just 10 days.
The first night as I arrived to Rigonci was devastating. There were 2000 people, migrants and refugees huddled under blankets, exhausted and freezing outdoors, on a meadow. They were trying to keep themselves warm with fires fuelled by scavenged items, such as trash, plastic and discarded clothing. When you find yourself, as a reporter, among the cold, exhausted people and their children, you’re simply a human being touched by the suffering.
The scenes were shocking – as if from another planet. The village once declared the most beautiful in the Brežice municipality, a village where people tend to their farms, raise livestock and lead peaceful lives, suddenly became a backdrop to a tragedy.
In the following days, I actually saw a migration of nations. I met people from Syria, Pakistan, Iraq and a family from Afghanistan.
Europe and the world face an imposing challenge, as the situation is extremely hard to control. I also wonder what living conditions these people will have as they settle here. Not to mention the aggression directed at them by radical political groups.