Serbia + 9 more

UNHCR Serbia Monthly Update, September 2020

Situation Report
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Three hundred and eighty-two intentions to seek asylum were registered in September (compared to 681 in August) and 19 persons applied for asylum (comp. to 16 in August). The Asylum Office (AO) adjudicated on one asylum application by rejecting it. Twelve asylum-seekers gave Power of Attorney to UNHCR project lawyers in September for representation in asylum procedure. By end-September, AO granted international protection in Serbia to 16 persons (nine were granted asylum and seven subsidiary protection) in 2020. 1,244 refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced persons (incl. 135 Roma) received legal and asylum counselling in over 260 field visits and 92 focus-group discussions undertaken by UNHCR and partners.

Partner Belgrade Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) launched an online campaign #proveri_vest which aims to present facts refuting the fake news relating to refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants in Serbia.

Five new cases of Covid-19 amongst the refugees/migrants have been reported, all recovering successfully, bringing the total number of cases recorded since March to seven (0.1% of the total refugee/migrant population present in the country).

On 1 Sep, the body of a 16 y.o. boy from Libya was pulled out of the Sava River in Belgrade city centre by the police; further details remain unknown. On 16 Sep, UNHCR partner NGO was informed by two men from Afghanistan that another two of their compatriots drowned in Drina river, when the whole group was being made to swim back to Serbia by the BiH border police earlier that day. This brings the total number of casualties in 2020 thus far to 15, of which 13 drownings.

The number of observed arrivals decreased by 32% to 2,730 (from 4,000 in August): 85% arrived from North Macedonia, 8% from Albania (through Kosovo1 ), 5% from Bulgaria, etc.; 56% originated from Afghanistan, 16% from Pakistan, 12% from Syria, 6% from Bangladesh, etc.; 82% were adult males, 3% women and 14% children, including 250 unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) (comp. to 172 in August). At the same time, the number of persons pushed back from neighbouring countries in September – counting 3,115 – not only exceeds the number of arrivals in September but is also the highest monthly number of pushbacks recorded since UNHCR Serbia began monitoring pushbacks in the spring of 2016. Lower number of observed arrivals and high number of pushbacks may also imply that a significant number of new arrivals remains undetected and proceeds towards the western EU borders shortly upon arrival to Serbia. Twenty-one percent of all pushbacks from neighbouring countries reported denial of access to asylum and 19% reported physical abuse, mistreatment, extortion, et al.

The number of residents in Asylum (AC) or Reception/Transit Centres (RTC), increased by 17% to 5,064 at the end of the month.
They comprised 2,020 citizens of Afghanistan, 1,498 of Syria, 232 of Bangladesh, 219 of Pakistan, 183 of Iran, 161 of Iraq, and 751 from 49 other countries. 4,336 are adult men, 202 adult women and 526 children, including 174 UASC. With the colder weather, the number of foreigners observed staying rough outside governmental centres decreased by 16% at the end of the month to 780, mainly in border areas and in Belgrade.

On 24-25 Sep, UNHCR/IDEAS and the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs organized a seminar for field workers, guardians and regional coordinators from seven cities and towns across Serbia, on “Strengthening child protection of refugee children in Serbia”.

UNHCR and partners Danish Refugee Council (DRC), IDEAS and Crisis Response and Policy Centre (CRPC) conducted four workshops for UASC Peer Educators in September, in Belgrade and Bogovađa AC, where the issues of the asylum procedure and the legal framework in Serbia, and also the damaging practices of irregular movement were discussed. On 25 Sep, 11 UASC (Peer Educators) and three young adult asylum-seekers joined the second day of the Roma UN Volunteers Summer Camp in Vrdnik in