Since 2009, ETP has partnered with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Government Office of the Slovak Republic to provide comprehensive services to people under the protection of the UNHCR in the Evacuation Transit Centre (ETC) in Humenné.
The ETC provides temporary shelter to refugees who fled their homes due to an armed conflict to seek refuge in another country, where their lives would still be at risk or where they might possibly be threatened with deportation. The refugees stay at the ETC for up to six months, during which the resettlement procedures to their destination country take place.
Slovakia is not the refugees´ final destination; it is only a temporary shelter, where they are accommodated, until the process of their resettlement to their destination country is completed.
ETP, as a partner of UNHCR, provides health care, social work, interpreting services and daily activities including education, sports, social and cultural orientation courses. Accommodation, food and personal items are provided by the Slovak Government.
So far, 791 refugees from Afghanistan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Iran, Iraq and Palestine have found temporary refuge in ETC. Seventeen children have been born in Slovakia to evacuated women.
The ETC activities are provided in consultation with the clients. Those organized on a daily basis include:
- language courses in three groups, based on the level of proficiency;
- computer literacy courses;
- Pre-School Club for children aged 3-6 years;
- school classes for children aged 6-16 years, including English, reading, writing, counting, sports and social skills. Older children are provided lessons in mathematics, geography, history, and social and cultural traditions of the country that is going to become their future home;
- cultural orientation courses, focusing on providing knowledge on destination countries, including history, geography, science and arts. The refugees also receive information on cultural values, educational systems, places of interest, famous people – including immigrants, legal systems, transportation, shopping and other areas related to everyday life. Thus, every family gets the opportunity to learn about the country that is going to become their future home;
- psychological care, provided by trained professional therapists, delivered both in the form of group and individual counseling and consulting, aimed at addressing any trauma or psychological problem;
- ‟CrossRoads“ – a unique eight-day course delivered by the American author, aimed at providing support to clients standing at the greatest crossroad in their life. The course focuses on personality development, positive thinking, healthy relationships self-awareness, and support of clients´ strengths and talents;
- creative workshops are provided to clients of all ages throughout their stay. These include painting, making window decorations, creating puppets, planting flowers, cooking and baking (Slovak, Somalian, Iranian, Afghani, and other clients´ traditional dishes), embroidery, knitting, and many others;
- excursions and leisure activities – such as visiting castles, caves, zoos and other places of interest, including the historical sights of Košice, Prešov and Michalovce. Clients also attend theatrical performances, concerts, 3D cinemas and museums.
- community life, personal conversations and leisure: these informal and unplanned activities often have the greatest impact on clients. Social workers, teachers and psychologists frequently sit with clients over a cup of tea and talk about their joys as well as their sorrows. Personal relationships and a kind and friendly atmosphere are essential to clients´ satisfaction in their difficult situation. Together they celebrate different holidays (Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, World Refugee Day, baby welcome party, birthday parties, farewell parties, and many more).
The ETC clients are cared for by 27 ETP employees. Full-time workers include 2 nurses, a kindergarten teacher, a school teacher, 10 social workers, a social worker coordinator and 8 interpreters. 3 psychologists, a pediatrician, and a general practitioner work on a weekly basis. Administrative, financial and professional project management is provided by 5 professionals (lawyer, accountant, administrative assistant, financial manager and project manager).
Although clients may arrive in Slovakia in search of relief from persecution, oppression and violence preventing them from leading a full-fledged life in their own country, as well as in the country where they may have found a temporary home, they are full of fear and apprehension. However, empathy, a humane approach and the daily care of ETP staff, in cooperation with UNHCR, IOM and Migration Office of the Ministry of Interior help refugees to find a will to live and a belief in a better future. ETC gives refugees who have witnessed war, persecution or physical torture a sense of regaining human dignity and safety. Understanding and solidarity provides our clients with hope for a better future and, even though they do not have the option to stay in Slovakia, some are reluctant to leave.