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‘Budapest Helps!’ Community Center for Ukrainian Refugees Marks Anniversary

Ukraine Crisis

Deputy Mayor of Budapest Gábor Kerpel-Fronius; Muriel Tschopp, UNHCR acting representative for Central Europe; Dániel Bagaméri, head of office of IOM Hungary.

Photo by János Pelikán

On Saturday, September 9, the Municipality of Budapest, IOM Hungary, and UNHCR Representation for Central Europe marked the one-year anniversary of the "Budapest Helps!" Community Center with the opening of a photo exhibition about the center and its activities, with music by students of the Béla Bartók Music Academy, Ukrainian refugee singer Eliza Lasminska, and a Ukrainian choir.

“Over the past year, the 'Budapest Helps!' Center has not just been a hub of vital information, but also a beacon of hope and unity for the displaced Ukrainians in Hungary. Together with our partners, we've strived to create an environment where those displaced can find a semblance of normalcy, community, and crucial support in their most challenging times. As we mark this anniversary, we reiterate our commitment to standing alongside every individual seeking solace, information, and social inclusion. The journey ahead is long, but together, we can make it a little easier,” shares Dániel Bagaméri, head of office at IOM Hungary.

The center has served almost 12,000 people since it opened its doors, and has become a central hub for social inclusion, activities and community, while assistance has come in the form of crucial information and counseling, a sense of community in their temporary home, and various educational and recreational activities.

The center also offers guidance and support with access to social services like education, health care, the job market, financial support, accommodation, housing and mental health services for adults and children. As a point of information for displaced people from Ukraine in Budapest, staff regularly answer pressing questions about life in Hungary.

Furthermore, the center has become an important meeting point for the displaced people and offers a wide range of activities aimed to foster a better sense of community as well as social inclusion.

“The first anniversary of the ‘Budapest Helps!’ Information and Community Center fosters a sense of belonging and unity within the community. It helps strengthen social bonds by bringing refugee people together, encouraging interactions, and promoting a shared sense of identity and purpose,” highlights Deputy Mayor of Budapest Gábor Kerpel-Fronius at the anniversary event of the Center’s achievements in the last year.

“This Center marks the success of a common vision and initiative between civil society and local authorities, national and international partners and the refugee community and the citizens who have welcomed them with open arms,” explains Muriel Tschopp, UNHCR acting representative for Central Europe.

“In this one year, much has changed. For many who visit the Center, the realities of the first days in exile have transformed into the daily struggles of seeking to establish a semblance of normalcy in a country of refuge. As life in displacement continues, community support becomes a lifeline,” she adds.

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