Tens of thousands of refugees from Ukraine remain in Hungary and are in need of vital assistance. The Municipality of Budapest together with the offices of IOM, the International Organization for Migration and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in Hungary opened the Budapest Helps! Information and Community Center one year ago, in September 2022.
The Center has served almost 12,000 people since it opened its doors – this many people have received answers to their questions or participated in the various activities there -, and it has become a central hub for information, social inclusion activities, and most importantly – community. Assistance has come in the form of crucial information and counselling, 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.
On Saturday, 09 September 2023, the Municipality of Budapest, IOM Hungary and UNHCR Representation for Central Europe marked the one-year anniversary with the opening of a photo exhibition about the Center and its activities and music by students of the Béla Bartok Music Academy, Ukrainian refugee singer Eliza Lasminska, and a Ukrainian choir.
“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,” Deputy Mayor of Budapest Gábor Kerpel-Fronius highlighted at the anniversary event 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,” said 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.”
“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” – Dániel Bagaméri, Head of Office of IOM Hungary said.
The Municipality of Budapest, IOM Hungary and UNHCR Representation for Central Europe would like to thank the support of their donors – the US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM); the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Government of Japan and the Government of Sweden, who have enabled the Budapest Helps! Information and Community Center to provide effective assistance to thousands of refugees from Ukraine during the past year.