BELGRADE, Serbia (September 9, 2015) – Responding to ever-growing need in the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, Christian humanitarian organization World Vision has expanded its operations to help refugee families in camps in Subotica and Kanjiza in northern Serbia, near the Hungarian border. Although nearly all of the refugees are Syrians, they make up only a small portion of the more than 4 million Syrians forced to flee their homes in the conflict.
The aid organization has been supporting parents and caregivers of young children in the Serbian camps, with “family packs” that contain basic items such as diapers, baby cream, baby soap, wet wipes, a toy, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, shampoo; cotton swabs; as well as sanitary pads for mothers. World Vision is also currently transporting further aid to the camps in the coming days, which will include hygiene kits. World Vision hopes to help approximately 1,000 people in the first week.
“What we have seen on the Serbian-Hungarian border is a tremendous number of refugee children and adults who are suffering hardships on their long journey; forced to sleep outside, lacking proper sanitation and surviving on little food,” said Aida Sunje, World Vision’s spokesperson in Serbia.
She added most families lack even the most basic supplies, like shoes. “Most of them (shoes) got destroyed during the long walks from Macedonia to Serbia,” Sunje said.
About 70,000 refugees have reportedly entered Serbia since the beginning of the year. In a survey World Vision did of refugees in Serbia, the majority had fled directly from Syria and plan to continue on from Serbia to Hungary, Austria and Germany. The refugees reported using multiple forms of transportation from boats, trains and buses to walking. Many had made the journey with families or friends from their homes in Syria.
The recent migration flow to Europe comes as aid organizations have had to make major cuts to assistance due to lack of funding. Syrians refugees in Lebanon now only receive $13 per person per month. In Jordan, thousands of families saw their food aid cut entirely in August.
“The enormous flow of refugees over recent months has arisen because international funding for refugees living in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan is drying up, leaving refugees hungrier, poorer and more desperate than ever,” said Conny Lenneberg, World Vision regional leader for the Middle East: “Syrians want to remain in the region and close to home but with food rations running down, with their children not in school, and with no sign of peace on the horizon, they are left with little choice.”
The work being done in Europe complements World Vision’s long-standing relief efforts to help Syrian refugees in the Middle East, which began in March 2011. Since that time, World Vision has reached more than two million people with food and food vouchers, water, household and hygiene supplies and educational support for children who have been without access to schooling. World Vision is active in working with Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan and with displaced populations within Syria itself and in Iraq.
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About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development, and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.WorldVision.org/media-center/ or on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.
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