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Balkans

HOSPOTALS CROWDED 05. 02. 2019.   >>  17:27 0

HOSPOTALS CROWDED

Skopje is the most polluted European capital

Children are missing school and hospitals are running out of beds as a noxious smog smothers Skopje, earning the small Macedonian city the grim distinction of being Europe's most polluted capital.

"This is not human any more," says Marina, a mother who has been forced to take two months off work without pay to stay with her 16-month-old baby David at the hospital.

"He was born healthy. There was nothing wrong. And now we are probably facing asthma for a lifetime," she says of her son, who is being treated for severe asthma that has been aggravated by the toxic air.

The infant is among more than 100 children being treated in an institute for respiratory diseases in Skopje, a small city home to around 500,000 people. The youngest patient is two months old.

Children and the elderly are the most vulnerable to the air pollutants, a mix of fumes from home-heating fires, car emissions and coal-burning industries.

Geography is also a key factor, with a ring of mountains around Skopje helping to trap smog in the valley.

This winter, the Macedonian Ministry of Health has announced the distribution of masks to 43,000 chronically ill people, but activists see this as a short-term response rather than a serious fight against pollution.

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