Fresh Response is an independent volunteer organisation providing humanitarian support to refugees and migrants, based in Subotica in northern Serbia since July 2016. We reach people within the city limits, as well as in Kelebija and Horgos transit zones at the border with Hungary and other outlying areas.
We began as an ad-hoc response with the aim of improving the quality of life of people stuck within the official camp system, supplementing inadequate food rations with fresh and nutritious ingredients sourced from local suppliers. With dignity and agency, people could prepare meals they wanted for themselves and their families.
The needs and gaps in this area rapidly expanded starting in October of 2016, as a result of dropping temperatures and the coldest winter in recent history. This coincided with a drop in support from all official institutions on the ground, after a state-issued letter prohibiting humanitarian aid to people outside the overcrowded official camp system. At the time, this meant over 2,000 people sleeping rough outdoors no longer received aid from other organisations. As the only independent project in the area, we continued supporting and started to focus on this increasingly marginalised and vulnerable population.
Being independently funded and non-bureaucratic means we have always been able to adapt our activities quickly to meet the constantly changing situation and needs. Beyond food, we have expanded to cover other basic unmet needs: drinking water, clothing, blankets, firewood, camping and shelter kits, mobile showers, hygiene, medical referrals, and advocacy.
Throughout everything we do, we strive to be a warm and welcoming presence on the long road to Europe.
Cover photo courtesy of Mateusz Skwarczek