Opening of Child Friendly Space and Mother and Baby Corner in Bujanovac

Bujanovac Reception Centre opened its doors for refugees on 19 October 2016, and Refugee Council established Child Friendly Space and Mother and Baby Corner, funded by UNICEF, within 24 hours. Bujanovac Reception Centre is a small camp in comparison to other camps in Serbia and the rest of Europe - its capacity is only 250 beds, and it is considered as one of the family–friendly camps in Serbia.
Mother and Baby Corner (MBC) provides service for most vulnerable persons in Bujanovac Reception Centre - for babies under age under 2 years, their mothers and pregnant women. By November, two nurses and translator were taking care of 15 babies per day on average, providing nutritional support, supportive care, education and counselling on breastfeeding and infant feeding. MBC is not just a playground for babies and a place for mothers to rest or sleep, MBC also promotes and support optimal infant and young child feeding (IYCF), provides space for mothers to breastfeed in private and serves as a baby-changing station.  Coordination with partners, who are in contact with mothers and children, provides MBC opportunity to extend its benefit by enabling timely referrals to general practitioners and gynaecologists or access to different services specialised for mothers, pregnant women or babies, like social welfare system of different Child Protection actors in the field.
Regular baby food distribution (jarred food, UHT milk, high-energy biscuits etc) and NFIs (baby clothes, shoes, baby carriers, baby blankets and hygiene items for mother distribution), ensures dignity and reinforces a sense of security for beneficiaries. In cases where criteria for use of breast milk substitute (BMS) are met, MBC has the capacity to provide preparation of BMS in a semi-private area according to prescribed sanitary conditions and serves as a place for private feeding.
Child Friendly Space is providing service for children from 2 – 18 years and their caretakers. The environment in which children can participate in organised activities like play, socialising, learning, and expressing themselves in addition to implementing indoor and outdoor activities. Workshops – creative, imaginative, physical, communicative, and manipulative (games, sports, expressive/creative activities, life skills educational activities and other activities that promote child development/psychosocial well-being and coping skills) are giving structure in camp life and providing an opportunity for children to learn.
Structured non-formal educational activities aim to develop skills, values and knowledge are organised in a tailor-made manner, taking into account diversity of beneficiaries, different educational background, different native language, different interests etc. Children are outside of the school system for a prolonged period of time, and while CFS activities are not aspiring to serve as a replacement for school system – they are aspiring to provide children with the meaningful knowledge that would be useful when children are introduced to the educational system. Basic literacy and basic numeracy, foreign languages etc, are all essential tools in any school system in the world.
CFS Child Protection Officers are having an important role in identifying unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) and referrals to Serbian social welfare system. Large numbers of UASC coming from different countries and speaking different languages in Serbian camps make it challenging to design meaningful educational programs.
DRC project “Child Friendly Spaces – support to refugee children”, funded by UNICEF, has provided assistance to 68,605 children and 27,569 mothers/caretakers in six cities in Serbia from September 2015 to November 2016.