Fund B92 and Trag Foundation: Info Park's first anniversary
Info Park is marking the first anniversary of its work, Fund B92 and Trag Foundation have announced.Source: B92
It is a unique center for service provision to refugees which was jointly launched by Fund B92 and Trag Foundation in Belgrade, Dimitrovgrad and Presevo.
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 and other support needed for their stay in Belgrade and safe continuation of their journey.
The operation was launched with the assistance of Belgrade City Council, International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Pro Asyl and was later supported by Foundation C&A, Conservatoire, AXA, Divac, CARE, Save the Children and a number of partnering organizations such as Youth for Refugee, Refugee Aid Serbia, Caritas, Philanthropy, Praxis, JRS, Info Center for Asylum and others.
Info Park represents the continuation of the civic initiative launched in the summer of 2015 that provided support to the refugees from Middle East and other countries on their way through Serbia. The energy of solidarity and human empathy of the Serbian citizens continued to live through the professionalized humanitarian service that grew into the main Belgrade point for free aid to refugee and migrant population in the last year, offering food, clothes, transportation towards asylum centers, information, internet and other services.
Besides Belgrade, Info Park also operated in Dimitrovgrad and Presevo while the so-called Balkan route was open between November 2015 and March 2016. It is estimated that Info Park’s staff and volunteers serviced over 150,000 people in these points over the course of last year.
Besides information and logistical support, Info Park also liaised with other institutions and organizations as to secure humanitarian, medical and legal aid and, thanks to donations of individual philanthropists as well as friends from country and abroad, it offers practical support in transportation and securing free temporary shelter for the most vulnerable refugee categories. Info Park currently engages 8 staff and 10 volunteers from Serbia and Middle East. Info Park services are offered in Arabic, Farsi and English languages.
“Within the last year, Info Park achieved significant results on several different levels. We secured that the energy of civic activism that marked the summer of 2015 in parks close to the bus and train station in Belgrade continued to live, despite the dramatic changes in circumstances. We believe that we kept the vital power of solidarity and support that the citizens of Serbia directed towards citizens of far out lands that travel through Serbia. On the other hand, we managed to professionalize this service and introduce procedures that build our credibility and reputation amongst big international organizations who continuously support our work. We are especially proud that the last 365 days provided no challenge that we failed to adequately address and that we, at least for a moment, brought back smiles and dignity to people forced to run for safety”, said Gordan Paunovic from Fund B92 who is an operational manager of Info Park.
Besides providing food, clothes, hygiene products, information and connectivity, special segment of Info Park’s protection work was to organize transport of refugees towards asylum centers in Krnjaca, Banja Koviljaca, Bogovadja, Sjenica, Tutin, Sid and AdaSevci, all in cooperation with Commissariat for Refugees and Migrations of the Republic of Serbia.
"Despite the frequent changes in border regimes, including complete closing of the so-called Balkan Route, the influx of refugees to Serbia has not stopped, quite the contrary. Circumstances in which Info Park currently operates are one of the hardest since the crisis begun. Around 5,000 people are practically stuck in Serbia whereas new people from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and other countries continue to arrive daily. A significant portion of these people are located in Belgrade and they inevitably depend on food, hygienic products, clothes and other services offered by Info Park. At this moment, an average of 400 refugees receive over 1,200 meals on daily basis. We especially emphasize that Info Park is open for all, regardless of gender and age, and the advantage is given based on actual vulnerability assessment of each of our beneficiaries," said Marija Mitrovic, manager of Info Park on behalf of Trag Foundation.
At this moment, Info Park is developing a new strategy that will be adapted to current circumstances in which larger numbers of refugees are forced to prolong their stay in Serbia, requiring a whole new spectrum of support. Info Park plans to develop an information, communication and education center for refugees and inform the public of this in due time.