UNHCR Serbia Update, 10-16 April 2017
HIGHLIGHTS AND STATISTICS
Fearing prolonged detention in Hungary before being expelled back to Serbia, more refugees and migrants tried to re-enter the EU through Croatia, now also Romania, while spontaneous returns to Greece through fYRo Macedonia continued. Three cases of collective expulsions from Hungary were reported during this week, as well as 109 from Croatia.
On 10 April, UNHCR in Geneva issued a press release calling for temporary suspension of transfers of asylum-seekers to Hungary from other European countries under the Dublin Regulation (an EU instrument determining which European state is responsible for examining an asylum seeker’s application), qualifying the situation for asylum-seekers in Hungary, already a concern for UNHCR, as becoming worse since the introduction of mandatory detention for asylum-seekers. The Press Release is available here.
On 16 April, almost 7,600 refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants were counted in Serbia. 85% (6,412) were sheltered in 18 government facilities, while the rest were counted sleeping rough in Belgrade city centre or close to the borders with Croatia and Hungary.
Security incidents in and around Transit Centres that host high numbers of unregistered migrant men remained a concern. In response to one of such incidents, the citizens and local authorities in Sid petitioned the Government to close the Transit Centre in Sid.
On 11 April, the police rounded up around 180 unregistered men (mainly Afghan and Pakistani, around half of which were minors) sleeping rough in/around Sid and transported 160 to Presevo Reception Centre (RC), while 20 were taken to Magistrates court. In Presevo RC, the newcomers were received by camp management, UNHCR and partners, who provided medical check-up, NFIs, registration etc.
On 12 April, Crisis Response and Policy Centre (CRPC) conducted another profiling exercise in Belgrade city centre where refugees/migrants squat. From the total of 1,322 counted, 340 (all male) were surveyed. Vast majority were Afghans (78%), some Pakistani (21%) and very few others. Among them were 164 children (48%), aged 8-17, of which 96 were identified as UASCs, originating mostly from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Around 75% have been in Serbia for up to six months, the rest longer. Compared to the previous profiling exercise implemented in March 2017, there is an increase in the number of respondents willing to be accommodated in one of the state-run accommodation centres.
Among some 107 new arrivals that were met and assisted by UNHCR and partners during the week, six were unaccompanied and separated refugee children (UASC), boys from Afghanistan and Pakistan. All were referred by UNHCR and partners to Centres for Social Work. Currently, over 900 UASCs are in Serbia, with at least 750 accommodated in government centres (334 in Obrenovac, 150 in Presevo, 18 in Bujanovac, and 248 in other governmental shelters), as well as close to 200 in Belgrade city centre.
121 intentions to seek asylum in Serbia were registered in the reporting period.