For 28 years, UNHCR in Montenegro has helped refugees by providing legal and material aid, as well as psychosocial support, while at the same time working with Montenegro to develop its asylum capacities.
“Montenegro’s open-door policy in the aftermath of the dissolution of former Yugoslavia paved the way for the integration of nearly 12,500 ex-Yugoslav refugees. This is a great example of how even small countries can protect people in need of refuge.”
Adrian Edwards, UNHCR’s interim representative in Montenegro
Olesia has a big passion for cooking as well. After escaping a war-torn country and finding refuge in Montenegro in 2015, she sought ways for making a living while managing to stay at home and look after her daughter and a baby boy. Since she was frequently baking cookies and preparing meals for her family and neighbors, Olesia decided to start a small bakery business.
A no-compromise approach regarding the quality of her ingredients reflects her personal life philosophy as well as care for her customers’ health and wellbeing. Other than showing resilience of spirit when faced with life challenges, Olesia puts a lot of effort into creating opportunities for herself and dreams of expanding her business one day.
Olesia, 33, and her daughter live stably in Bar, a port city in Montenegro
Olesia, like many other vulnerable people around the globe, was impacted by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit refugees particularly hard, leaving many vulnerable and reliant on donor support to maintain their livelihoods. UNHCR, with the financial support of the European Union, has provided COVID-related food and hygiene assistance, as well as a 2-month rental subsidy to refugees and asylum seekers in Montenegro, under a regional project funded through the EU Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace. Olesia was among those who received the assistance, which has been crucial for alleviating the adverse effects of COVID-19 and in enabling refugees to be productive members of the community.
“It is heart-warming for us to see that with EU assistance Olesia and her family are managing to navigate during these difficult times of the global pandemic,” said Hermann Spitz, Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to Montenegro.
Covid-19 has affected around 21,000 refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in the Western Balkan region, putting reception and protection systems of the countries under additional pressure. The EU has shown strong solidarity with the most vulnerable, providing life-saving support.
“We have allocated €700,000 for Montenegro as an immediate response to ease the effects of Covid-19 on refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. With our partners, UNHCR and IOM, we are helping people in need with adequate housing, medical, social, psychological and logistical support.”
Hermann Spitz, Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to Montenegro.
By Ana Puljiz | 3 December 2020