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Coronavirus lockdown halts climate activists’ international journey

Coronavirus lockdown halts climate activists’ international journey
Copyright Rosie Watson/New Story Run
Copyright Rosie Watson/New Story Run
By Natalie Huet
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Rosie Watson and Mike Elm set off for a cross-continent journey on foot and bike to meet those tackling the climate crisis. But the coronavirus pandemic left them stranded in Kosovo.


Thousands of travellers around the world were caught out by the COVID-19 pandemic and the sudden border closures that came with it.

Many have managed to find their way home by now – on their own, or through repatriation flights.

Two who haven’t are young climate activists Rosie Watson and Mike Elm, from the UK. They were on a cross-continent journey on foot and by bike to promote more sustainable ways of travelling and living when the new coronavirus swept across Europe.

They found themselves stuck in Kosovo when authorities closed down all land and air borders mid-March in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19.

"That was the end of the journey for the time being. That was eight weeks ago," the pair told Euronews in a live interview.

Both have been using their time in the town of Prizren to write about their trip on their blogs. The managers of a hostel that’s now closed under the nationwide lockdown agreed to let them stay as long as they have to, they said.

"We’ve been really welcomed and feel quite at home now, I guess," Rosie added.

Telling a ‘new story’

Eight months ago, Rosie started running from the UK to Mongolia, for what she’s hoping will be a two-year journey on foot, meeting people along the way who are working to tackle the climate crisis.

"Telling it through the adventure, you get a wider audience to tell these stories," she explained.

Inspired by her efforts, Mike joined her on the adventure in November, but on his bike – taking different routes and meeting up with Rosie every now and then.

Now reunited in lockdown, they're both waiting for borders to reopen to pick up their journey where they left it.

Mike said he’s hoping to go to Albania next, to study how the capital Tirana is working to become friendlier to pedestrians and cyclists. Rosie plans to head east towards Bulgaria, to meet more environmental activists there.

"I’m hoping to connect stories across the world, to show that this new story is emerging of how we can live in a more healthy and sustainable way," she said.

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