UNHCR Started the Second Cycle of the Project “In their Sneakers”
26 March 2023
Belgrade 26 March 2023
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, with the support of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Serbia, has commenced, for a second year in a row, the initiative “In their Sneakers” in order to raise awareness amongst secondary school pupils and their teachers of the needs and potentials brought by refugees.
The start of the project was marked by a day-long workshop organized in Belgrade today, which gathered representatives from 13 schools from Belgrade, Novi Sad, Nis, Vranje, Becej, Paracin, Bujanovac, Zagubica, Sid, Uzice and Trstenik,. Through a series of interactive activities, including conversations with young refugees, their peers who have found safety in Serbia, the participants got a chance to get acquainted first-hand with the everyday challenges refugees face. For the majority of pupils, this was the first-ever in-person encounter with forcibly displaced people, thus they got a chance to witness the knowledge, skills, and talents brought by refugees into their host communities.
“No one chooses to be a refugee, and everybody can become one at some point in life. This has become obvious with the onset of the Ukrainian war in the middle of Europe. Sadly, we’re witnessing a worrying trend of the global yearly increase in the number of people forced to flee their homes in search of safety from wars and persecution. UNHCR is deeply confident that young people have immense potential for making the world a better and more inclusive place for all, including refugees. Last year we were delighted to receive numerous exceptional ideas from schools across the country on how to support refugees in Serbia, and I am looking forward for the ideas to be developed this year,” stated Stefanie Krause, the UNHCR Deputy-Representative in Serbia.
Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Snezana Vukovic, Head of Department for Human and Minority Rights In Education, emphasized the continuous commitment exercised by the state authorities to ensure all necessary assistance for those in need, as well as support for educational institutions and local youth initiatives aimed at addressing these challenges.
The next phase of the project “In their Sneakers” has been envisaged to encompass pupils’ activities within their local communities, which would eventually result in small-scale projects enhancing inclusion and overall empowerment of refugees. As per the plan, UNHCR will have announced the best solutions by the end of the year, based on the impact they’ve made on improving the life conditions of the people forced to flee their homes.
Within last year’s cycle of the project, UNHCR was pleased to have received a number of creative projects, while the team of the Mathematical Grammar School from Belgrade was awarded first prize for the development of the mobile app for learning Serbian, intended for Arabic native speakers.