In close partnership and thanks to the valuable support of the Serbian Government and the City of Belgrade, on 22nd September UNICEF and its implementing partner Danish Refugee Council opened a Child-Friendly Space in Belgrade. This activity is part of a wider and integrated response to the rising concern about the overall situation of the refugees in the parks close the bus and railway stations in Belgrade, especially considering the deteriorating weather conditions.
The official opening ceremony of the Child-Friendly Space with breastfeeding area for refugee children and lactating mothers was attended by the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Serbia Mr. Bratislav Gašić, State Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs Mr. Nebojša Ivanišević, the Belgrade City Manager Goran Vesić, UNICEF Representative in Serbia Mr. Michael Saint-Lot and Danish Refugee Council Representative Mrs. Marina Cremonese.
The Child-Friendly Space was also visited by UNICEF World Ambassador Mr. Novak Đoković who was deeply touched by the difficult situation these children are in and glad they can spend at least a bit of time in a safe place like the Child-Friendly Space and get all support they need.
Young children and their mothers are among the most vulnerable refugees and they are in need of special attention. The Child Friendly Space offers mothers relevant information on their rights and on protection issues, as well as advisory support about child health, nutrition, and hygiene and safety measures. This information is crucial for parents in strengthening their safety and well-being during their stay in Serbia. The intervention also provides an opportunity for the identification of the most vulnerable children, referring them to relevant services if needed and ensuring adequate action is taken.
"The Child-Friendly Space is equipped with educational materials and toys and books where children can engage in recreational, educational and arts activities which are beneficial for their physical and emotional wellbeing. Having their children cared for will bring much needed relief to parents after long travels,” said UNICEF Representative in Serbia Mr. Saint-Lot.
"This space will contribute bringing a bit of joy and happy moments to children. We wish mothers to feel our support and friendship, sustaining them in these difficult moments" said DRC Representative in Serbia, Mrs. Cremonese.
Another Child-Friendly Space was opened by UNICEF and DRC three weeks ago in Presevo One-Stop Refugee Centre.
Danish Refugee Council Serbia is highly dedicated to provide needed support to refugees and persons likely in need for international protection who are currently in Serbia. DRC is intensively engaged in shelter and wash interventions aiming at improving the reception conditions in the various recently opened Refugee Aid Points in the country, health care, protection including child protection, information dissemination, provision of food and NFIs and planning winterization support.