New “RAZAM” space for refugee children and families opens at the border crossing in Brest
The “RAZAM” (“Together” in Belarusian) information centre and space for refugee and migrant children and families opened in Brest today. This is a safe space where families who arrive in Belarus will be provided with important information on registration, access to national protection services, psychosocial support, humanitarian assistance, legal advice, and other services.
The centre was established at the “Brest” border crossing point by the Belarusian Red Cross, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with the support of the Municipality of Brest.
“The experience of the Belarusian Red Cross staff at the Belarusian-Ukrainian border this spring showed that people crossing the border first need information, an opportunity to contact relatives and mitigate the stress. "Razam" space will offer all of these and additional services to people who have come a long way and who need help. We are grateful to our partners UNICEF and UNHCR, and Municipality of Brest for the opportunity to expand the range of services provided by the Belarusian Red Cross to people who came from Ukraine, and thereby help even more people who need our support,” said Dmitry Shevtsov, the Secretary General of the Belarusian Red Cross.
The centre will support refugee families with children from neighbouring and other countries who need support in Belarus. It provides information on where to access medical services and psychosocial support, how to register in Belarus or apply for protection, where to seek free legal advice or psychological counselling, and other services provided by the state services of Belarus. The centre will also serve as a safe space for children where they can warm up, relax, play and just be children at a time when everything around is changing rapidly.
“The lives of children on the move have been turned upside down, they have faced turmoil and distress every step of the way. The Razam centre will offer a level of certainty and safety for families with children, a place where they can get the help. We are grateful to the Municipality of Brest, Belarusian Red Cross, UNHCR as well as other national partners and UN agencies such as IOM, UNFPA and UNDP for their commitment and solidarity to support families in need,” said Rustam Haydarov, UNICEF Representative in Belarus.
The centre offers a private space for breastfeeding, water and tea, and wireless internet so that refugees and migrants can keep in touch with family members and plan their further travel.
Two small information points have been operating at the border crossing and at the Brest bus station since September 2022. In just a few months, more than 870 people, including 324 children have applied for information and help. The new centre will offer expanded services and a safe child-friendly space as temperatures drop below zero.
“UNHCR is glad to work with the city administration, the Belarusian Red Cross and UNICEF to provide a safe space and support to refugees on the move. As part of a range of services available, UNHCR will provide legal information and counselling to those refugees who require it, as part of the broader protection response,” said Mulusew Mamo Kelkile, UNHCR Representative in Belarus.
Beneficiaries will receive information and will be referred to other services or assistance, including those provided by national partners and UN agencies, such as IOM, UNFPA, and UNDP.
The Razam centre follows the concept of Blue Dots and other safe spaces for refugee children and families that have been established across the region. UNHCR and UNICEF have jointly established Blue Dot Protection and Support Hubs, spaces where refugees can find information, support and referrals for health care, education, psychosocial support and more, all under one roof. Similarly, to Razam centre, services available at Blue Dot hubs aim to assist all refugees, with a specialized focus on children, and those at greatest risk.