Belgrade, Rome – Smog and air pollution are currently affecting residents of major cities in the Balkans and Italy. In the Serbian capital Belgrade, the permanent fog only cleared after ten days on Friday afternoon. Polluted air from heaters, cars and power plants had been mixed in the cold, damp haze all along. Kosava, a strong east wind, which occurs regularly in the winter and provides fresh air, came only rarely this season. People demonstrated for better air in Belgrade.
The citizens’ initiative “Do not sink Belgrade” criticized the government for its handling of the problem and called for a protest on Friday evening, to which several hundred people came. They asked for measures to protect the population and better information about the extremely high air pollution.
“We breathe air that literally kills us,” said protester Aleksandar Markovic (54). More than 10,000 people have now signed a petition calling for a fight against air pollution. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said: “The problem exists, but there is also a campaign that is sometimes grotesque.”
Sarajevo under a smog bell.
© ELVIS BARUKCIC
Other major cities in the Balkans also have problems with air pollution in the winter – especially metropolitan areas in geographical areas such as Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina or Skopje in North Macedonia. The UN environmental program Unep last year examined air pollution in 19 cities in the Western Balkans. According to the report, air pollution in the cities surveyed resulted in nearly 5000 premature deaths annually. The main cause of the harmful emissions are power plants and heating.
Smog alarms have also been raging in parts of Italy for days. In Rome, a driving ban for diesel vehicles was still in effect until at least Friday. Nevertheless, the fine dust values at the measuring stations did not drop. Elevated values have also been measured in Turin for days, where driving bans have been imposed. Cities like Piacenza, Parma or Modena were also affected. One of the reasons for the bad air is the persistent dry weather. (AP)