Serbia’s civil society appeal for support in refugee crisis

Photography credits: Roxana Todea

Source: The Serbian Network of Organizations for Children of Serbia – NOCS

Ever since the beginning of the refugee crisis, the members of  NOCS have been involved in activities aimed at helping and supporting children of migrants and refugees from Syria and other countries in the Middle East. Among them, there is a large number of children, with an escort or unaccompanied, who are especially sensitive and vulnerable. As the situation is becoming more complicated and uncertain, NOCS  mapped potential partners that have the capacity to get engaged in new activities and that are already active in providing support to the children of refugees.

NOCS members conduct activities in Belgrade, in the south of the country in Presevo, in the north near Subotica, Horgos, Kanjiza and Sid.

Know How Center, SOS Children’s Villages SerbiaUdruženje građana DugaPomoć deci, Novosadski humnaitarni centar NSHCThe Center for Youth Integration and Friends of Children of Serbia have involved volunteers who are collecting and participating in the distribution of humanitarian aid (packages, hygiene, food, water). They have formed mobile teams and are working with children in detention centers where special corners are formed for them. They are planning health assistance and support for children and families. Among NOCS members, there are also organizations that can train volunteers to work with children and refugees.

NVO Atina engaged in a comprehensive program of social inclusion of victims of trafficking and other forms of exploitation and can provide training for people who work in the field.

RROMA-ROTA, Somborski Education Center and Grupa za decu i mlade Indigo  are also ready and planing to be involved in the activities with refugee children.

A network of partners in the field is being formed in order to assess the need for emergency relief and support and there is cooperation with national institutions and international donor organizations. In larger cities in Serbia, there are local networks against human trafficking which are becoming particularly important in this time of increased inflow of refugees, and in the situation where the risk of trafficking, abuse and exploitation is extremely high.

Parental associations in Belgrade, like Udruženje Roditelja, appeal for donation of baby slings and wraps. These are very important so that children would not get separated from their parents or caretakers during their stay and further travelings. They also allow parents to move their hands freely so that they can help their older children. Furthermore, there is a lack of food, water, shoes, backpacks, sleeping bags, raincoats (especially for children), baby wraps – slings, tents, hats, gloves, socks, as well as men’s and women’s shoes.

Praxis is engaged in protection monitoring, distribution of information on survival-related issues, provision of counselling and assistance to refugees in Belgrade related to registration of intention to seek asylum in Serbia and access to humanitarian aid. Praxis team is available during working days from 12-14h at the Info Park (Belgrade) and has a hotline during weekends (with an Arabic speaker).

“According to Save the Children, during 2015, more than 25,000 refugee children have arrived to Serbia, including at least 5,754 unaccompanied minors (UAM). Afraid that their freedom of movement will be limited, these minors insist that they are traveling in a group. These minors avoid at all costs to be identified as UAMs, insisting that they are “traveling in a group with the aim of reuniting with their family in Germany”. Some of the children have been separated from their parents and families and are particularly at the risk of trafficking, abuse and exploitation”, declared  Jasmina Mikovic, Praxis Deputy Executive Director.

Bearing in mind the escalation and scope of the crisis, as well as the coming winter, The Serbian Network of Organizations for Children – NOCS makes an appeal for investing additional efforts in addressing the crisis at both the national and regional levels, pointing out that children are the most vulnerable and the most affected.

If you wish to support The Serbian Network of Organizations for Children – NOCS   (or its members) activities, please contact Sasa Stefanovic at office@zadecu.org.