Info Park helping refugees in Serbia for 18 months now
In tunes of Afghan music and smell of fresh dates, Info Park, a unique refugee support project in Belgrade, Serbia, is celebrating its "1.5th birthday."Source: Info Park
There are plenty of reasons for celebration since Info Park assisted more than 150,000 refugees in its first 18 months, out of that more than 115,000 in Belgrade, 15,000 in Dimitrovgrad and 30,000 in Presevo – before closing of the so called Balkan route.
Info Park was established in September 2015 as a joint initiative of Trag Foundation and Fund B92, in an effort to respond to the immediate refugee situation and unprecedented inflow and outflow of refugees from Middle East, Asia and Africa.
It started as a small but first info and connectivity point in hotel Bristol park, near Belgrade’s bus station where refugees and migrants were coming to seek help and support they needed. As the needs were growing Info Park started introducing new services including protection for families, women, unaccompanied children and extremely vulnerable individuals. They were referred to specialized organizations such as NGO Atina, BCHR, Info Center for Asylum (later CRPC), Praxis, IOM, UNHCR, Medicins Sans Frontiers, Medecins du Monde, and other.
As of May 2016, Info Park made sure not to leave anyone hungry by providing an average of 1,500 fresh meals per day or more than 250,000 over this period before 24 October 2016, when the Bristol park operations shut down. In addition to this, Info Park was providing necessary NFIs (clothes, shoes, hygienic products) on a regular basis and in a safe and dignified way. Through this and other activities, we built solid partnerships with a number of organizations: CARE, Save the Children, Refugee Aid Serbia, Caritas, Hot Food Idomeni, Philanthropy, JRS, Evangelist Church etc.
November 10 2016 was a happy day as Info Park moved to the new 135 square meters’ big hub at Gavrila Principa 55. New space brought new activities with focus on protection and empowering refugees and migrants, but also information sharing, language learning and other workshops in a safe zone.
“We are especially proud of empowering girls and young women in Belgrade, by organizing German language classes, women rights emancipatory workshops, yoga sessions and other support activities to boost their confidence.” said Marija Mitrovic, manager of the project.
Despite lower numbers of new arrivals, the challenges remain and Info Park will invest all its efforts to respond to the needs of refugees and migrants.