New COVID-19 documents translated into Serbian

Timok Youth Centre from Serbia and DPNSEE continue translating and publishing UNODC documents in Serbian. Now this includes three infographics on COVID-19 – HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for people who use drugs:

Philanthropy is opening an urgent shelter

Our newest member organisation Philanthropy, in collaboration with the City of Kragujevac, Serbia and the local Centre for Social Work, is opening the urgent shelter for socially vulnerable homeless people in Kragujevac. This service will enable protection of beneficiaries’ health well-being and prevent COVID-19 spreading. Urgent shelter will be provided based on the referrals submitted by the Centre for Social Welfare, according to the Law on Social Protection.

The project for opening the shelter for homeless people was developed for some time and completed just now, at the outbreak of the coronavirus. That helped the local community to offer home to some of those who were in jeopardy now when elderly people, especially those who are in pensioners homes, are in a high risk category.

DPNSEE managed to provide Philanthropy with an amount of hygienic material, masks and clothes for users of their centre.


Terra Association Programs in the Age of Coronavirus Outbreak

Our member organisation Terra sent us information about their work in the new circumstances caused by the coronavirus outbreak through the words of two of their staff.

Marko Mušković, Program assistant on the program to increase social inclusion of the users of the City of Rijeka Emergency Accommodation

As of 1 June 2018, the Terra Association has been implementing a program to increase the social inclusion of beneficiaries of City of Rijeka emergency accommodation, which, as far as field work is concerned, has been paused at the request of the National Civil Protection Headquarters, due to the need to protect our users and the association staff.

But these almost two years of work in three locations covering the necessary accommodation have proven useful now when we are able to provide help not to all, but probably the most vulnerable citizens, in their elementary need – nutrition. Namely, the drastic reduction of the public transport lines necessary for the beneficiaries to go to one of the four points of public kitchen prevented them from exercising their right to use the food service, which for many is the only opportunity to consume freshly prepared food.

Therefore, since 26 March 2020, in cooperation with the Department of Health and Social Welfare of the City of Rijeka, the head of emergency accommodation Mrs. Nevenka Kovačević and the City of Rijeka Red Cross Society, whose staff prepare the food, a hot meal is provided at all three locations. The number of beneficiaries (and thus the meals) is almost every day increasing, and some of them are using this service for the first time.

As a rule, meals are distributed outside, in front of the necessary accommodation. Exceptionally, due to the poor health of individual beneficiaries, meals are delivered to their doorstep. A record is kept of each user: whether or not he has taken over his meal, with the possible note that, if done, the food has been handed over to a neighbour or friend.

On this occasion, we thank our dear beneficiaries for their patience, adherence to social distancing, respect for order in distributing meals process, and readiness to use protective masks and gloves. Also, we have to mention the important role of the Centre for Social Welfare, especially social workers, who through their tireless work have promptly enabled their beneficiaries to exercise this right.

Without diminishing the importance of meeting the basic necessities of life, for our part, we try to additionally “spice up” every bite – with a warm word.

Ilijana Grgić, Harm reduction program assistant

Terra Association Drop-in centre is closed to visitors from March 16 and the injection equipment (needles, syringes, ampoules of distilled water, alcoholic wipes, condoms and lubricants) is distributed through a so-called ”window”. We notice that our clients take more equipment than usual, which indicates the creation of supplies. Thanks to the donation of Neosalon, since Monday we have been sharing reusable masks to the clients of our programme.

Since last week, needle exchange programme has been operating from 11 am to 2 PM. Some of our clients are working, so they cannot come during the specified hours. For them and some others, there is a telephone line available, which they can call and arrange another time of picking up the injection material.

Psychological support is still being provided, but over the telephone. Our colleagues are in regular contact with numerous clients and their family members.

Users still have the opportunity of using the telephone; this is very important for them, to contact their doctor and loved ones. Of course, the telephone and the space around the Drop-in centre are regularly disinfected.

Considering that currently there is no option of using the kitchen, food is being provided for the clients of poorer economic status.

Except the information about the working hours, clients have been introduced to the recommendations of the National civil protection headquarters and Basic measures of protection against the new corona virus for drug users, provided by DPNSEE.

At the Gea Counselling Centre, we are in ongoing online communication with all our beneficiaries through social networks (Facebook and Instagram) and different application platforms like Viber, Whats App, Skype and Zoom. Counselling centre staff members’ phone numbers and e-mails are published and visible on all of our social platforms.


Juventas keeps providing services

We got a comprehensive information about activities of our member organisation Juventas from Montenegro about their activities on coronavirus outbreak. Here it is:

The services we deliver to persons using/injecting drugs, persons providing sexual services and ex-prisoners, although under different circumstances, are still functioning, along with new Corona preventive measures to protect staff and clients introduced:

These are:

  1. Distribution and exchange of safe injection equipment (syringes, needles, cookers, medical alcohol, elastic tourniquets, …) in Drop in centres and during outreach
  2. Distribution of free condoms and lubricants in Drop in centres and during outreach
  3. Service of washing and drying of laundry and garments (on a regular basis, but now even more so as a part of measures preventing the spread of Corona virus)
  4. Online and phone counselling with outreach and expert workers (doctor, psychologist, social worker)
  5. Delivering food packages for the ones most economically challenged (once per week, quantity for 7 days)

 According to measures issued by the Government, all external partners/associates are forbidden to provide additional services in prison. On the other hand, we are supporting the work of this institution by providing materials for in prison tailoring of protective masks throughout the framework of a project we have.

We also deliver services to the LGBTIQ community in cooperation and synergy with activities of community led organizations NGO Queer Montenegro, LBTQ Women’s Association “Stana, and Trans/Gender Variant persons’ Association “Spectra”.

All the services that we deliver to the LGBTIQ community are the following: 

  1. Distribution of free condoms and lubricants – NGO Juventas
  2. Online and phone counselling with outreach and expert workers (doctor, psychologist, social worker) – NGO Juventas
  3. Service of washing and drying of laundry and garments (on a regular basis, but now even more so as a part of measures preventing the spread of Corona virus) – NGO Juventas
  4. Delivering food packages for the ones most economically challenged (once per week, quantity for 7 days) – NGO Juventas and NGO Queer Montenegro
  5. Peer online and phone individual and group counselling and support – NGO Queer Montenegro
  6. Free legal aid – NGO Queer Montenegro
  7. Peer online and phone individual and group counselling and support for LBTQ women – LBTQ Women’s Association “Stana”
  8. Online self – support group for trans and gender variant persons- Association “Spectra”
  9. Individual online and phone consultations for trans and gender variant persons – Association “Spectra”

All communication (online/phone/in person with all preventive measures in place) is being instigated by our outreach and expert workers and completely needs focused.

Online communication with all our communities is being done via social networks (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and different other social application platforms like Viber, Whats App, Skype and a new app called Houseparty that provides different social games next to persons involved being able to converse. 

It is important to mention that staff members’ phone numbers are published and visible on all these platforms. Also, we have prepared detailed specific guidelines for our team and our clients. Together with partners, we have been advocating for protection and human rights of all communities we are working with from the beginning of the epidemics.

Read more at their website following this link>>>


HOPS – Options for healthy living Skopje and services during COVID-19

Taken from the HOPS website

After the announcement of the corona virus pandemic, harm reduction services were modified but all clients were covered.

Drop-in centres for harm reduction of HOPS are closed, but each service has a special phone number and contact person that meets the needs of users. They can also contact the services through all social media (Facebook , Twitter , Instagram , Website) where all the news related to harm reduction from the coronavirus and all the new recommendations for protection of the population from and the World Health Organisation the Government are continuously published.

Mobile field teams operate every day, where users with pre-made contact are visited in front of their homes. The team is formed in dependence on the need of the clients (therapeutic and social worker, therapeutic and medical worker, therapeutic and lawyer). In accordance with the recommendation of the Government, there may be a maximum of two people in one vehicle. Field teams distribute sterile utensils (needles, syringes, distilled water, condoms and lubricants) daily and inform customers about all news related to the coronavirus and instructions and advice on protecting public health (such as the recommendations from INPUD).

HOPS team at work even in surprisingly bad weather conditions

HOPS, in cooperation with other humanitarian organizations, is also planning humanitarian actions in order to provide food and hygiene packages for the most vulnerable populations. Once a week, the medical person (doctor) must be part of the field team in order to assess the general health of the population and to react in a timely manner if necessary.

Substitution therapy centres carry out their activities smoothly and clients regularly receive their therapy. The staff employed at the methadone centres has increased the level of protective measures. They don’t allow more patients to be gathered (therapy is raised one by one) and fully follow the recommendations for protective equipment from the government of Northern Macedonia and the WHO.

For now, our team is working bravely, without obstacles and is dedicated to support all those in need. We thank them for their empathy and sacrifice during these strange times.


Edit (6 April)

The Foundation for Open Society Macedonia, in cooperation with the Macedonian Red Cross, donated 100.000 USD for humanitarian support including food and hygienic packages for Roma population. It will be distributed to 2.000 families with around 10.000 people in 9 cities and villages across the country. Our member organisation HOPS will be among 6 civil society organisations that will organise the delivery.
More (in Macedonian) is available following this link>>>.


HOPS appointed the Acting Executive Director

Announcement for appointment of Acting Executive Director of HOPS

In times of extraordinary circumstances the Association HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje is experiencing, due to the sudden death of our dear colleague and Executive Director Mr. Ivica Cekovski, the Steering Committee has reached a decision to appoint Ms Hadji Sterjova Simnovic as an Acting Executive Director of the organization. This decision is a temporary one, with a duration of three months, i.e. until the state-of-emergency ends in our country and proper conditions for electing and appointing new Executive Director will be created. The position of Acting Executive Director entails the same responsibilities and obligations as an Executive Director.

Ms Sterjova Simonovic ќ is an attorney, with a long-standing experience working for HOPS and has an indispensable experience and knowledge in its activities, as well as the communities it represents.

We lost Ivica

It is with our deepest sorrow that we learned of passing of Ivica Cekovski, the Executive Director of HOPS, North Macedonia.

It was a joy to work with Ivica. He was calm, nice, organised and eager to give a helping hand. He was a wonderful person who will be so sorely missed.

We join our friends from HOPS with thoughts of comfort in helping them get over the immense void left behind by the loss of our beloved colleague Ivica. Words cannot express our sorrow. Ivica will be missed.

Instructions on coronavirus in Serbian

Together with our member organisations Prevent and Re Generation, DPNSEE have prepared information and instructions for protection against coronavirus in Serbian for people in risk from vulnerable populations we support. We used several sources: INPUD, Leafly, Crew and BesD.

The instructions are printed in 500 – 2.000 copies to share to the key populations.

These instructions will be available in various institutions and civil society organisations in Serbia. We expect that they will be adjusted to local languages in some other countries of South East Europe.

General harm reduction tips for people who use drugs
General prevention measures against coronavirus COVID-19
Instructions for people who take drugs snorting
Instructions for people who use cannabis
Instructions for people who go clubbing
Instructions for sex workers

Together against coronavirus

On the initiative from civil society organisations, following the DPNSEE Public appeal to protect vulnerable groups from coronavirus COVID-19, a meeting was called by the Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of Republic of Serbia to discuss the measures to protect people who use drugs and other connected vulnerable groups. The meeting was held on 13 March with representatives of the Office, Ministry of Health, Special Hospital for Addictions and four civil society organisations.

All participants agreed that vulnerable groups need to be supported for their personal and protection of the entire society. Conclusions include

  • By noon on Monday 16 all service providers will send estimations of their needs for materials they need to protect the key populations they serve and their staff. The Office for Combating Drugs will collect them and send a joint request to the Ministry of social affairs. Once they are provided, they will be distributed to the organisations.
  • The Office will also request for an information about the needs of the shelters for children, young people and elderly and try to organise support to them.
  • Funds for the additional support will be requested from the project supported by the Global Fund and Ministry of Health, at least for the staff supporting the key affected populations.
  • Civil society organisations are preparing specific instructions for people who use drugs and other vulnerable populations and share them both through social networks and printed materials.


Javni poziv za zaštitu ranjivih grupa od korona virusa COVID-19

The Public appeal to protect vulnerable groups from coronavirus COVID-19 which DPNSEE issued on 2 March 2020 was translated into Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian and circulated across the region.

Here are these versions: