Asylum Resource Centre (ARC) – Education Monday
Utilizing Local Help
Since January 2016, RMF Balkans has been responding to the refugee crisis in Serbia by providing comprehensive protection and medical services to persons of concern. Our teams began by working 24/7 throughout the Belgrade city center, and when most refugees and migrants in the area were relocated to refugee camps, RMF Balkans and its medical services moved to the camps along with our patients.
Currently, our team of doctors, dentists, medical support workers, and cultural mediators/translators is working primarily at Obrenovac Reception and Transit Centre, the largest refugee camp in Serbia, which is home to over 800 refugee boys and men. In addition to hiring all of our staff in-country, RMF Balkans also benefits the local community through our projects by providing temporary jobs; for example, more than 100 people were involved in our renovation of Obrenovac Reception and Transit Centre, which was completed in July 2018. RMF also extends our support to the host community on a case-by-case basis, by providing hygiene kits and medicines to those in need.
Obrenovac Refugee Camp Improvements
Quality of Life
In 2018, RMF Balkans renovated the first floor of Building 11 and the reception area at the entrance of Obrenovac Reception and Transit Centre. The project was completed at the beginning of July. The reconstruction included upgrading the existing infrastructure, installing sanitary facilities, and providing basic furniture and necessary equipment in line with international standards. One room was transformed into a computer room, now called the Asylum Resource Centre (ARC), where refugees can access the internet and get in touch with their families and friends. Since its opening, RMF Balkans continues to run the ARC.
The Asylum Resource Centre (ARC) opened for service August 1, 2018, and the working hours of the center are from 3:00 PM to 10:00 PM, Tuesday through Saturday. There are seven laptops with all necessary devices, such as headphones and computer mice, along with seven computer tables and chairs. In order to make the computer room accessible to all, use of the room is limited to one hour a day per person. The RMF team and representatives from the Commissariat monitor and record entries and exits from the ARC.
From October to the end of December 2018, 1,750 refugees and migrants used ARC services. Most of the visitors were from Afghanistan (1,005) and Pakistan (737). In general, 81% used the computers to contact their families via Facebook and Skype. The rest used the opportunity for entertainment by watching movies and music videos, playing video games, or browsing the internet. Every Monday at the ARC, RMF Balkans organized a language lesson workshop called Education Monday. We also plan to provide lessons on Microsoft Word and Excel in order to help refugees improve their business skills.
Equipping and Entertaining
The RMF team also built a movie theater with a projector in the largest room on the remodeled floor of Building 11. In addition to its entertainment value, the theater is used as a conference room for educational workshops and classes, such as language courses, basic computer courses, and more. All organizations in the camp can use the theater; however, it is required that employees from the Commissariat and police are present at all times.
During this reporting period, the movie theater was used 12 times by other organizations at Obrenovac camp. A movie night was organized by CollectiveAid/BelgalAid. On December 18, 2018 the theater was used by Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia to celebrate International Refugee Day. They ran an exhibition on photographs and paintings made by refugees at Serbian camps.
Other renovated rooms are used as offices for our employees and for the storage of medicines and medical and dental equipment. The entry room serves as a reception area where refugees and migrants must register before entering the camp.