As part of the Intervention Support project for refugees children and families which we initiated in August 2015 and which lasted until the end of the year 2017, we have implemented three types of support in two transit locations in Macedonia, Transit center Tabanovce – Kumanovo and Transit center Vinojug – Gevgelija. The project for intervention activities which was in development was initiated with the activities carried out in August-September 2015. With support of the international organization SOS Children’s villages International, the project was financially supported by the following associations for promotion and support: SOS Children’s villages Sweden, SOS Children’s villages Netherlands, SOS Children’s villages Norway, SOS Children’s villages Spain, SOS Children’s villages Denmark and Foundation Hermann Gmayner Fund from Germany. SOS Children’s village Macedonia conducted this project in the official refugee transit centers in the Republic of Macedonia, particularly the Refugee transit center Vinojug – Gevgelija and the Refugee transit center Tabanovce – Kumanovo. Additionally, a part of the activities of the project were financially supported by the office of UNICEF in Macedonia, the Swedish Development and Cooperation Agency, the Foundation “Together in action”, Radiohjälpen – Sweden and the Akelius Foundation.
The following focus groups were part of the project:
- Children, particularly unaccompanied children and young people
- Young people (Females in particular)
- Mothers with children (particularly malnourished children)
- Pregnant women
- Adults in need of medical help or any kind of basic help
The project consists of a few types of activities which have been divided in 4 key components:
- Child protection
- Enabling unobstructed communication and internet access to refugees
- Help and support in the form of food and non-food products for the target group
- Providing conditions for unobstructed transit and stay of the target group as part of the reception centers
The comparative analysis has shown that during the year 2016, SOS Children’s village Macedonia has provided services to 48,6%, namely 43.623 from the total number of 86.623 registered refugees. At the same time, we have succeeded in providing help and support to 95% of the children aged 0 to 18 years and to 53% of the mothers who were passing through the Republic of Macedonia. The activities which are part of this component were conducted in the SOS Child friendly space for support of children in the Transit center Tabanovce – Kumanovo.
The Child friendly space for support of children in Tabanovce operated between 19th of November 2015 and 31st of December 2017, with 24 employees and 3 volunteers, in 3 shifts, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The activities for providing support to children were divided into several teams and managed by a shift coordinator. The work of the employees of the Child friendly space for support of children was supported by five translators (Arabian – Macedonian – English – Arabian).
The Child friendly space for support of children provided psycho-social support to children, parents and families, aiming to ensure the welfare of the children and the youth, with organized and structured activities which are conducted in a safe, friendly and stimulating environment.
The primary users of the Child friendly space for support of children are children aged 0 to 18 years, particularly unaccompanied children and separated children, young people, mothers with children (particularly sick/malnourished children), as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women.
In addition, during the year 2016, SOS Children’s village Macedonia started to provide a structured informal education program for children up until the age of 18 and a special education program for school-age children which was specifically provided by the team which is part of this project with the goal preparation of children for their subsequent inclusion in the primary education system in Macedonia.
This program was created with the support of the Ministry of labor and social policy, in accordance with the guidelines of the Ministry of education and science. As part of this component, SOS Children’s village Macedonia has provided 62.141 services to 43.623 beneficiaries during the year 2016. The services included psycho-social support services, educational and humanitarian aid in clothes and hygiene supplies.
In detail, this includes 3.680 services for the children aged 0 to 2 years: 29.023 services for the children aged 2 to 18 years: 190 services for pregnant women: 10.391 services for mothers: 415 services for children and women with additional and specific needs.
The ICT corners in Tabanovce and Vinojug Gevgelija have started their work during the year 2015. The ICT corners in both transit centers have provided services with the goal prevention of separation from the family, to ensure family reunification and access to reliable information and communication channels. In the corners, SOS Children’s village Macedonia has provided free Wi-Fi internet access and IT support and allowed use of computers and a printer/scanner/photocopier and has provided a free space for charging batteries for the needs of the refugees.
During the year 2016, we have provided services to 72.170 persons, 10.500 of whom were women, 32.150 young people and 29.470 men.
SOS Children’s village has provided 146.230 food and non-food products, including: winter jackets, hats for children and babies, boots, t-shirts, hygiene packages for children and babies (soaps, shampoos, wet wipes, toothbrushes) and underwear. The provision of food and non-food products was carried out regularly, in cooperation with the Macedonian Red Cross. SOS Children’s village was a member of all of the coordinative bodies responsible for the refugee crisis, such as:
- Main unit for coordination of the migrant crisis – Crisis Management Center of RM
- Child protection/activities/ services in the Child friendly space for support of children – UNICEF
National level Skopje
- Group protection coordination– UNCHR, National level Skopje
- Non-food products / Preparation for winter – Ministry of labor and social policy
- Communication / PR group for Tabanovce – CRS Skopje
- Coordination for Tabanovce – Crisis management center – Kumanovo
- Coordination for Vinojug – Crisis management center – Gevgelija
- Capacity building for child protection – UNICEF, National level, Skopje
- Unit for coordination of the development of the education programs for informal education of children up until the age of 18 – Ministry of labor and social policy of the Republic of Macedonia.