Local dwarfs global in Serbia refugee response
BELGRADE, 21 September 2015 (IRIN) – It is early afternoon and Miksalište, a major hub for refugees set up in a performance space in the heart of the Serbian capital, is a hive of activity for the Belgrade refugee response. Some of the refugees queue to pick up donated food, clothes and baby products, while others receive health check-ups. A group of young men crowd around a solar charging station, taking advantage of the free wifi.
Miksalište was formed by Refugee Aid Serbia (RAS), an umbrella group of nine charities, NGOs and social groups from Belgrade when large numbers of refugees and migrants started arriving in the capital from Serbia’s border with Macedonia at the beginning of August. It now helps some 1,000 people per day. Although not trained as an aid organisation, RAS has leveraged global connections, social media, and partnerships with private enterprises to respond to a crisis that has challenged more traditional models of aid provision.
The founders of the collective are drawn from a smörgåsbord of local groups: Mikser Hause, Ped Medic, Adra, the Belgrade Foreign Visitors Club, GivingBack Serbia, Catalyst Balkans, the Anna and Vlade Divac Foundation and Save Babies. Some have experience in aid work, many do not; but in a brief and hectic two months, RAS has become the largest responder to the refugee crisis in the Serbian capital… [Continue reading at IRIN]