SERBIA - Helping our neighbors faraway

Serbia - Helping our neighbors faraway

During recent years, since the start of the Syrian civil war, there has been a surge of millions of refugees fleeing the areas of destruction in Syria into neighboring countries and Europe, in search of refuge and a better life.

In September 2015 the world was shocked by photos of the body of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year old ­­whose small, lifeless body was found washed ashore in Turkey. This incident was a significant turning point at which the nations of the world and aid organizations began to recognize the plight of Syrian refugees and to take action.

In November 2015 NATAN joined these efforts in what seemed to be a central crossroads in the migration of the refugees to the European countries who had opened their gates to them.

Over several months NATAN operated a clinic for thousands of refugees in the transit camp in Presevo Serbia, working together with B92 and the local organizations of Humedica and Info Park. Over 50 medical and psycho-social aid professionals took part in this campaign, working side by side: Jews, Arabs working in cooperation and coexistence with sensitivity and professionalism worthy of inspiration and admiration.

When Europe closed its gates, the camp in Presevo went from being a transit camp to a permanent refugee camp with hundreds of refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan stranded there. The clinic served the camp residents until it was closed in April 2016.

In July, at the request of our local partners, NATAN renewed its activity in Belgrade, Serbia, where there are hundreds of refugees left without minimal living conditions and no hope for better living conditions. Following a thorough analysis of the situation, it was found that the need was for the training of volunteers from local aid organizations who are doing the difficult and sensitive daily work there.

Further to this finding, NATAN's professional experts provided training to several local aid organizations in order to improve their ability to cope with the existing situation and to improve the level of aid and service they provide, so as to benefit the refugees, the unofficial residents of the city.

Currently, NATAN is in the process of receiving approval to enter refugee camps on the borders of Serbia in order to continue to help however it can, in this unprecedented humanitarian crisis, with no good outcome to be seen on the horizon.

This operation is funded by JCDR- the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief – and private donors