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01 October 2015 – Yesterday Unicef Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom completed his two-day visit to meet refugee and migrant children seeking refuge in Europe.
After visiting the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on Tuesday, Mr. Bloom crossed the border to the Republic of Serbia and met with some of the most vulnerable children on the move, many of whom are fleeing war and hardship in their countries of origin.
“What I’ve seen is just a fraction of the arduous journeys undertaken by child refugees and migrants. It is truly disturbing. Imagine the despair that drives families to leave their homes”, said Mr. Bloom. “I am truly impressed by Unicef’s rapid response to the crisis. I visited the child-friendly spaces that allow children to have a childhood even if it is just for a couple of hours each day. These children are not images on the screen. They are real people in real need.”
Unicef Serbia, in partnership with the Danish Refugee Council, has established two child-friendly spaces, equipped with educational materials and toys, one in the town of Presevo close to the border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and the second in the capital city Belgrade. The children and their caregivers are exhausted from their long journeys and most of them have experienced some kind of trauma. Child friendly spaces are safe havens for them – to rest for a while and feel like children again. Unicef has also established two mother-and-baby spaces in the same locations, where the lactating mothers can be supported to breastfeed their babies and infants, and young children be provided with age-appropriate feeding, before they continue their perilous journeys into and across Europe.
Unicef has distributed information on exclusive breastfeeding and on landmines, as many families are then travelling through Croatia, which still has landmines and unexploded ordinance left over from the Balkans war in the 1990s.
Almost 150,000 people have so far expressed intent to seek asylum in Serbia. One in four is a child.
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