Belgrade, Serbia ( Associated Press) — Hundreds of people in Serbia on Sunday called for attention to the country’s high air pollution and called on authorities to take action to improve air quality.
The protest in central Belgrade was the latest in a series of gatherings organized by an increasingly visible environmental movement in the Balkan country.
Serbia – like the western Balkans – is facing a number of environmental problems after decades of neglect. Problems include poor waste management, low air quality and polluted rivers. Weeks of road blockades attracting thousands of people recently forced authorities to cancel a project for lithium mining by the Rio Tinto company in western Serbia.
The organizers of Sunday’s event demanded that the government tell the public about the air quality index on national TV. He said bad air kills thousands of people in Serbia every year.
“Serbia has a very dramatic problem with air pollution,” said Bojan Simic, one of the organisers. “We have one of the highest death rates in Europe and one of the highest (from poor air quality) in the world.”
Families with young children were also among the protesters. In the hands of some people “Stop Air Pollution!” There was a written banner. or “You’re suffocating us!” They blocked traffic on a central road before marching towards the government headquarters.
Experts say the poor air quality in Belgrade is the result of low-quality coal being used in nearby power plants, the capital has thousands of polluting old cars and outdated systems for domestic heating. Serbia will have to fix its environmental problems before being able to join the European Union.
Follow all Associated Press stories on climate change issues and pollution at https://apnews.com/hub/climate.