It’s the little things that count most

ASB-Chairman Knut Fleckenstein, MEP, is getting deep impressions of the refugee crisis in Serbia.

ASB Federal Chairman Knut Fleckenstein MdEP with Serbian Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Aleksandar Vulin, during a visit to refugee camps in Northern Serbia.
Image: ASB/Hannibal

"We have to support the Serbian people and the Serbian government in their efforts to help the refugees crossing their country and taking breath in Serbian collective centers", said Knut Fleckenstein, Federal Chairman of the Board of Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB) Germany and Member of the European Parliament, during his visit to Serbia last week. Fleckenstein wanted to get an insight impression of the current situation in the Balkan country.

The well-known specialist for the Balkan region met with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dačić and the Minister of Social affairs, Aleksandar Vulin. During his visit, Knut Fleckenstein had the opportunity to visit two camps in Northern Serbia, in Kanjiža and Subotica as well as a camp in the city center of Belgrade.

"It is depressing how poor the reaction of some EU member states is", he said. "I am really impressed how our Serbian friends are handling the situation." But in Knut Fleckensteins eyes, there is also hope: "It is good to see, that the teams of ASB and IDC (Initiative for Development and Cooperation) are handling the situation so well. Their dedication to the refugees – in addition to the work they are already doing for other social and developments projects in Serbia and South Eastern Europe – cannot be valued enough."

ASB help in practice

With ASB's own funds as well as funding from German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ASB is installing hygiene containers in refugee camps in Northern Serbia. Furthermore, ASB together with its partner Samaritan Organization IDC is distributing water, food, hygiene kits and other most needed relief items to refugee families in Kanjiža, Subotica and Belgrade.

In Subotica, ASB is currently building winter proof refugee shelters. "It is impressing and deeply relieving to see, how much can be done with financial support and this great dedication", Fleckenstein said. "I saw a child friendly space, where ASB and IDC are giving children the opportunity to paint, see cartoons, play or sing together. The smiles in the children's faces are just small, but that is what counts most."

ASB's Federal Chairman finally pointed out, that the borders to the European Union have to be opened for the refugees searching peace, security and a perspective for a life with dignity within the Union's borders. During a visit to Bezdan, one of the closed border crossings on the border with Croatia, Fleckenstein was deeply impressed by the round 200 children, women and men waiting there. "I only can urge all member states of the European Union to find a common solution to help these people. We cannot wait any longer for such joint decisions."

Esther Finis

  • In Bezdan, on the closed border between Serbia and Croatia, ASB staff members are trying to help the 200 refugees stranded there. "It is the biggest tragedy I have lived so far", says Gordan Velev, country director of ASB Serbia.
    Image: ASB Hannibal
  • The refugees are not only asking for water or food. Information is at least as important to them. ASB staff is helping as much as they can.
    Image: ASB/Hannibal
  • ASB Federal Chairman Knut Fleckenstein MEP during a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić. Fleckenstein said that EU to support the Serbian people and the Serbian government in their efforts to help the refugees.
    Image: ASB/Hannibal
  • In Subotica in Northern Serbia, near the border with Hungary, ASB is distributing relief items such as drinking water, to the refugees who take breath there.
    Image: ASB/Hannibal
  • In Subotica, ASB is also construcitng winterproof shelters for those refugees who will come here during the cold winter months.
    Image: ASB/Hannibal
  • Important exchange of their experiences and information: Members of the Hunagrain Samaritans together with ASB Federal Chairman Knut Fleckenstein (on the left) and ASB country direcotr Serbia, Gordan Velev (on the right)
    Image: ASB/Hannibal
  • ASB's Federal Chairman Knut Fleckenstein (second from the left), ASB regional direcotr Elmir Bojadzic (on the left) and members of the Hungarian Samaritans also met in Kanjiza to discuss their respective experiences in the help for refugees
    Image: IDC Serbia
  • Two of the Hungarian Samaritan team with Serbias Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, Aleksandar Vulin (in the middle).
    Image: IDC Serbia

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