One month has passed since European Union countries closed their borders to migrants, effectively sealing off “the Balkan route” an overland passage refugees and asylum seekers were taking from Greece through Macedonia and Serbia on their way to Europe. Since then, nearly 600 refugees, including 200 children, have been stranded in the Preševo Reception Center for refugees in northern Serbia. World Vision is one of several organization that have been working within the Center make sure the refugees’ basic needs for shelter, food, clothing and hygiene are met.
One of the most urgent needs is that of warm meals for children. World Vision’s response in Serbia was prompt, quickly solving this issue by partnering with Action Deutschland Hilft (ADH) and local organization Life Aid to provide 200 hot meals to children daily in Preševo Refugee Center.
The children were surviving on mostly dry and canned food. Now, the situation is much better. “The parents were so happy when we started offering hot meals for their kids,” says Slobodan Janjić, a worker from Life Aid who fills trays with hot food. “Before, we did not have this kind of meals specifically for children. Now we even have a chef from the Center who advises us on how to prepare food for the refugees and gives us recipes,” says Slobodan. Some of the meals include rice with chicken, fish and mashed potato, hot dogs, bean soup, meat stew, yogurt and macaroni and cheese. “There is always enough food for everyone,” says Slobodan, adding that the children’s rights favorite meal is rice and chicken.
“This warm food means a lot for us and our children,” says Waud Ismail from Syria. “I fell like you are mine, like a family. Thank you so much.” Waud has been in the Center with her two sons: Dila (3) and Barran (5) for a month. She is headed to Germany where her husband awaits them.
Leila Ibrahim traveled 10 days to reach Serbia from Iraq. She has been in the Center with her husband and seven children for a month. She sat in the Child and Friendly Space in Preševo with her daughter Dalin (4) who had “moustaches” from eating yogurt and macaroni and cheese. “It is much better now with these warm meals for the kids. It is more nutritious and healthier, before we only had sardines and bread every day” says Leila. Her family is trying to reach Germany where Leila’s brother lives.
WV closely cooperated with the Commissariat for Refugees of Republic of Serbia observing the nutritious needs of the refugee children who have been in the Center for a month. With the help from ADH, World Vision and Life Aid, WV’s distribution partner on the field, will deliver 6800 hot meals over the 38 days for 200 refugee children in Preševo.