Etihad Airways and its strategic partner Air Serbia have donated items of winter clothing, stationary, school bags, and food parcels to more than 2,000 refugee children and Serbian orphans in Belgrade.
The aid package, which was officially handed over at the Krnjača asylum centre in the Serbian capital today, reflects the UAE national airline’s ongoing commitment to global education and social responsibility. The children at the centre were joined by orphans from the Home for Children and Youth for a fun-filled few hours.
Hosted by Mr Minja Subota, the famous Serbian television personality, the event also included songs from Serbian children’s choirs, clown and magician shows, as well as the Serbian folklore ensemble, Talija, and Željko Vasić, the Serbian celebrity singer.
In addition to the event at the asylum centre, the Etihad Airways’ delegation visited on Tuesday 6 September, the Home for Children and Youth in Sremčica, spending time with children and staff members and donating blankets, cardigans and wheelchairs.
The events in Serbia are part of an agreement between Etihad Airways and the UAE Embassy in Belgrade to provide humanitarian and social support in Serbia. During the last four years Etihad Airways has also supported education for children in Yemen, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Jordan.
Maja Gojković, President of the National Assembly Committee thanked Etihad Airways and Air Serbia and all the partners for their efforts, especially in providing stationary and school items ahead of the start of the academic year.
Khaled Al Mehairbi, Senior Vice President Abu Dhabi Airport Operations, Chairman of the Etihad Sports and Social Committee, said: “Every child deserves to live in a safe and secure environment with access to education. Sadly in this world that is not always possible and so we hope that this initiative goes some way to helping these young children in the months ahead. Our special thanks goes for the UNHCR for supporting us to put a smile on the faces of the children.”
His Excellency Juma Rashed Aldhaheri, UAE Ambassador to Serbia, said: “I would like to thank Etihad Airways, Air Serbia, WAHA and all our partners for their efforts in this important initiative. It shows that many organisations, and nations, can work together to make an impact on those in need of help and support.”
Dane Kondić, Chief Executive Officer of Air Serbia, said: “We are delighted to support this initiative with our partners in the Government of Serbia and Etihad Airways, and to show these boys and girls that people care, not just today but in the weeks and months ahead.”
Dr. Khawla Salem Rashed Al Saaedi, Presidential Representative from WAHA International (the Women and Health Alliance International), said: “It is a great pleasure and honour for me to attend this wonderful event, which marks the beginning of a new alliance between all the partners. It is my wish that this project will be a beacon of hope to these children, as well as an example to others who wish to express their humanity to those in need.”
Special addresses were made at the event by Aleksandar Vulin, Minister of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs of the Republic of Serbia; Mladen Šarcević, Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia; Maja Gojković, President of the Serbian Assembly; Khaled Almehairbi, Chairman of the Etihad Sports and Social Committee; HE Juma Rashed Al Dhaheri, UAE Ambassador to Serbia; Dr. Khawla Salem Rashed Al Saaedi, Presidential Representative from WAHA, from the office of HH Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan Bin Mohamed Al Nahyan; and Dane Kondić, Chief Executive Officer of Air Serbia.
It was also attended by Ali Al Shamsi, Vice President Emiratisation Strategy; Linda Celestino, Vice President Guest Services (all Etihad Airways); and Branislav Malović, Chief Government Affairs Officer; and Luka Tomić, Chairman of the Shareholders’ Assembly (all Air Serbia).
The donations in Belgrade were funded by money raised through a series of charitable initiatives that have taken place in Abu Dhabi, in cooperation with WAHA, including ‘Walk for a Cause’, the Etihad Garage Sale, and the Holy Month of Ramadan Football Tournament.