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Serbia:#RefugeesWelcome,first social café for asylum seekers

Initiative to restore dignity to 250 migrants

19 September, 13:00
(ANSA) - ROME - A social café has been inaugurated in a reception centre in Serbia providing educational and recreational activities for migrants The 'Social Cafè #RefugeesWelcome' has opened in Bogovadja, 70 km from Belgrade, to provide a meeting place for guests at the transit centre for asylum seekers in the town. The café is the result of a partnership between Caritas Ambrosiana, Ipsia, Caritas Italiana and Caritas Valjevo, which since October 2016 have been working with local and international staff to provide psychological support and educational, cultural and recreational activities to the 250 or so guests. Courses and a café for dignity "A meeting place that goes beyond the emergency response, the Social Café recognises people in their dignity by promoting their individual skills and abilities," said Caritas Ambrosiana director for eastern Europe, Sergio Malacrida. The café offers computing and language courses, job search support and professional training in order to help the asylum seekers take the first steps towards integration in Europe. It has computer work stations and a bar area, enabling guests at the centre to drink a tea or coffee while taking part in activities.

A space for breaking with routine "The Social Cafè comes in response to a need expressed by guests at the centre," Ipsia-Acli President Mauro Montalbetti explains.

"It aims to be an informal meeting place, where guests can break with the usual daily routine marked by the distribution of basic essentials, registration, medical check-ups or bureaucratic procedures. In 2015 and until March 2016 over 920,000 migrants passed through Serbia in the attempt to reach Hungary or Austria. Today more than 4,000 people are waiting for permission from the Hungarian authorities to enter the EU, or are looking for a way to cross the border illegally. Most of the asylum seekers and migrants are living in government reception centres, including the one in Bogovadja. (ANSA).

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