From News Release, September 3, 2015:   Because tens of thousands of refugees are fleeing to Europe, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), the humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, has opened a support facility in Belgrade, Serbia.

According to the United Nations, there are 1,000 refugees crossing daily into Serbia on their way to the European Union. Officials in Serbia are estimating that by the end of 2015, there will be about 120,000 refugees in Serbia on any given day, mostly in transit.

The need for food, water, shelter, mobile toilets and showers increases as refugees travel through Serbia on their way to Hungary.

Last week, ADRA and its partners (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Municipality SavskiVenac, Belgrade Center for Human Rights and NGO Klikaktiv) opened the Asylum Information Center in Belgrade to assist refugees passing through Serbia. The collaborating partners provide reliable information about the refugees’ rights and available resources in their own languages. Information is being provided in Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, Pashtu, English, and French. Translators are also provided to assist with questions or concerns regarding legal asylum-seeking procedures, everyday life-issues, and medical or psychosocial support.

Medical doctors of Ped Medica private clinic screen a young Syrian boy. Credit: ADRA

ADRA founded Asylum Info Center is frequented by refugees, who are able to use free Wi-Fi and computers. Credit: ADRA

Refugees who visit the center can use computers and Wi-Fi, free of charge, to find information or stay connected to loved ones.

“This kind of center is critical,” says Igor Mitrović, ADRA Serbia County Director. “A large number of refugees do not want to apply for asylum status in Serbia, putting them in a difficult situation. They are vulnerable and our objective is to empower them, because this may be essential to their safety, health and dignity.”

If they do not register, he says, they cannot claim rights and services and are deprived of medical assistance. Mitrović explained that many refugees are sleeping outdoors with lack of proper hygiene, and no food.

ADRA has already distributed 2,000 meal kits and water to refugees entering Zajecar in eastern Serbia. The agency has also distributed hygiene items, diapers, baby formula, shoes, sanitary towels, etc.