InfoPark's six months of working for refugees
InfoPark, a unique center for service provision to refugees which was jointly launched by Fund B92 and Trag Foundation in Belgrade, Dimitrovgrad and Preševo, is celebrating six months of work.Izvor: B92
This one of a kind refugee support point was established on September 16, 2015 in the park near the bus station in Belgrade, aiming to provide service information and communication facilities to refugees, as well as other support needed for their stay in Belgrade and safe continuation of their journey. The operation was launched with a support of Belgrade City Council as well as International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Pro Asyl.
Over time, InfoPark network spread to Dimitrovgrad and Preševo, and during the first six months, the staff of Info Park helped over 100.000 refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and also refugees from Pakistan, Iran, Morocco and Somalia coming from Macedonia and Bulgaria. In addition to provision of information and logistical support, Info Park has partnered with other institutions and organizations in order to ensure humanitarian, medical and legal assistance, and thanks to donations of local and internationals citizens and activists, it has also provided practical support in securing free transportation and temporary lodging for the most vulnerable refugees.
Info Park Belgrade and Dimitrovgrad currently engage 8 interpreters and more than 10 volunteers from Serbia and from the countries of the Middle East. They work with refugees in Arabic, Farsi and English. Info Park Preševo is maintained by a local activist organization “Youth For Refugees” providing more than 20 volunteers with 24/7 presence.
“Info Park was launched as an extension of a citizen’s activism that marked the summer of 2015 in Belgrade parks full of refugees. We wanted to keep the spirit and vitality of solidarity and support Belgraders provided to the refugees in their town. Meanwhile Info Park grew into a unique network of centers that provide not only information and communication but, first and foremost, give human hand and support to people in need. In many ways, Info Park was the first such a point on their whole trip. The fact we brought smiles on their hands and made them feel like dignified humans again is our biggest achievement”, said Gordan Paunovic from Fund B92 who is an operational manager of Info Park.
With the newly introduced measures along the borders of Macedonia and Bulgaria, Info Park has stepped up to provide assistance and protection to a large number of refugees who are staying in Belgrade for more than a month, and to refugees who arrive to the capital from the east and south of Serbia. Info Park has helped this population through the distribution of food and hygiene products, provision of information on asylum seeking in Serbia and organizing transport to reception centers in Krnjača, Banja Koviljača, Bogovađa, Sjenica and Tutin.
"Despite the new measures, Info Park daily occurrence records 50-100 new refugees - mostly women and small children - and a large number of those who stay for a longer period in the capital. From this perspective, we can say that closing the Balkan route did not significantly affect the influx of new refugees but, unfortunately, it has contributed to the increased activities of persons engaged in human trafficking. Due to the lack of finances, a growing number of them remain on the streets without shelter and they are very much rely on the support offered by InfoPark. Although this population is currently in a very difficult situation with an uncertain outcome, the situation is peaceful and without incidents.” Said Marija Mitrović, manager of Info Park on behalf of Trag Foundation.
Due to the daily changes in the dynamics of the refugee crisis, Info Park will continue its activities as long as Serbia plays a role on refugees’ route. In case you would like to learn more or support our activities, please do not hesitate to get in touch on bellow contacts.
Fund B92 and Trag Foundation