An information and community centre set up by the Budapest municipal government and UN refugee agency UNHCR for Ukrainian refugees opened in central Budapest on Monday.
Opening the facility, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony said “the war in Ukraine has created a new situation for everybody to face and those forced to flee the crisis must be given as much help as possible”, adding that the city had been providing accommodation, meals and information to refugees ever since the war had broken out in the neighbouring country.
Muriel Tschopp, UNHCR’s regional head of operations, said at the event that in the past 200 days of the war 13 million people had to leave their homes, 6 million of whom had left Ukraine. “Many people need help including the schooling of their children, and finding accommodation and a job. The centre is tasked to help them in that,” she said, adding that it also aimed “to serve as a bridge between Ukrainians and Hungarians”. Dániel Bagaméri, head of the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Hungary representation, said the humanitarian crisis triggered by the war is reflected not only by the number, but also by the composition of refugees with many of them women, children, elderly or handicapped people. Budapest has an important role to play in providing humanitarian assistance to them as a city being the third most frequented destination for refugees after Prague and Warsaw, he said. The centre dubbed Budapest Helps will be open between 8am and 8pm from Monday until Saturday.