Serbia

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Address: Vojvode Stepe 78 lok. 5, 11 000 Belgrade, Serbia
Telephone: +381 (11) 40 99 561 / +381 (11) 40 99 562
Email: secretariat@caritas.rs
Facebook: caritas.srbije Twitter: Caritas_Serbia
www.caritas.rs

Caritas Serbia was established in 1995 to provide care and support to the vast number of people exiled from their homes and the large number of refugees arriving as a result of the civil war in the Balkan region. During these years Caritas Serbia provided food, fuel and shelter assistance to thousands of people. Four years later, Caritas Serbia provided help after NATO bombing destroyed hundreds of homes leaving thousands of people without food and shelter. Caritas Serbia responded with a three-year project, called SAO, involving distribution of family packages, wood-burning stoves and firewood, as well as assisted social centres, hospitals, nursing homes and children’s institutions. It is estimated that, from its foundation in 1995 until 2000, Caritas Serbia helped over 2 million people in different ways.

Today it continues its mission of bringing effective help to those most in need through humanitarian aid and relief, home care for the sick and elderly, advocating for the rights of people in the area of mental care, youth drug prevention, peacebuilding programmes and disaster risk reduction.

At home and abroad Caritas Serbia organises humanitarian aid and emergency relief for those affected by natural disasters or conflict, including floods, landslides and earthquakes. This was the case in 2011 when Caritas Serbia immediately responded by sending supplies when an epic 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck the north-east coast of Japan in March 2011, killing thousands and sweeping away homes leaving 300,000 people homeless and without food, clean water and electricity. For the first time, Caritas Serbia organised a fundraising campaign and collected around €14,000 which was sent to the affected region. Similar action was taken after an earthquake in Italy when about €5,000 was collected and sent. In 2005 and 2006 Caritas Serbia organised fundraising campaigns in order to help people affected by floods and landslides in Serbia. The action catered to around 1,000 families in several regions of Serbia. The help consisted of basic food, as well as hygienic and construction supplies.

Since 2006 Caritas Serbia has been working on peacebuilding, by organising meetings of religious leaders, religion teachers and students and highlighting the cultural heritage of different ethnic and religious groups. The activity also involves working with young people in conflict areas of Serbia, on issues common to different ethnic and religious groups, such as drug prevention.

In 2014 record rains caused historic flooding in Serbia and Caritas organised another fundraising campaign within the country, collecting €20,000. Aid for this project also came from the members of the Caritas network. Overall, this enabled Caritas Serbia to assist over 20,000 households affected by floods and landslides with: basic food and hygiene items, construction material, electric appliances, heating briquettes and stoves, food vouchers, aid for farmers and psycho-social support.

After the floods in 2014, Caritas Serbia started a disaster risk reduction programme, which involves working with local communities on disaster preparedness and prevention, creating a network of stakeholders on the national and regional level, and organising educational activities in schools for the youngest generations.

Since 2015 Caritas Serbia has had to deal with another emergency project relating to the refugee crisis on the Balkan route. Since then Caritas Serbia has been active in providing assistance to refugees and migrants, consisting of: food and hygiene items, clothes, shoes, sleeping bags, contributing to the maintenance and renovation of refugee centres, and providing psycho-social support.

In 2016, after a series of damaging earthquakes in Italy, Caritas Serbia organised another fundraising campaign, collecting €12,000 to help the affected population.

Collaboration with Caritas members and other donors is a hallmark of Caritas Serbia. In the early 2000s the organisation embarked on a partnership with Caritas Italy aimed at establishing the first mental health programme to influence the improvement of psychiatric care of those suffering from mental disorders, depression and schizophrenia, while rescuing them from deplorable living conditions, and abandonment by their families and institutions.

Caritas Serbia’s social programmes have been oriented towards refugees and internally displaced persons from Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the local population in social need. Their Home Care programme, supported mainly by Caritas Germany, upgrades the life quality of the elderly who are sick, alone and physically handicapped. Visiting nurses and household assistants travel to their homes to measure blood pressure, change their clothes, help them wash, provide physiotherapy, do housekeeping, bring groceries and provide transportation.

Caritas Serbia’s main office is in Belgrade and serves as the focal point for the five Caritas diocesan offices across Serbia. In total, depending on projects, Caritas employs approximately 100 people and has a network of a few hundred volunteers.

Caritas Serbia is a member of Caritas Internationalis and Caritas Europa and actively collaborates and receives support from the global Caritas Confederation.

Updates from Serbia