Serbia + 7 more

UNHCR Serbia Update, 12 - 14 December 2016

Situation Report
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  • Authorities, UNHCR, and partners encountered around 6,900 refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants. Over 5,500 (i.e. 80%) were accommodated in thirteen governmental facilities (see chart), while the remainder were counted sleeping rough in Belgrade City centre or at the border with Hungary.
     Newly registered asylum-seekers continued to be referred to the Reception Centre (RC) of Presevo and as of 14 December to Krnjaca Asylum Centre (AC), which has now significantly exceeded its capacity. All centres in Serbia are now fully occupied, some more than double their capacity.
  • UNHCR is grateful to the authorities of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for having accepted a refugee man and his minor nephew for resettlement. They departed on 13 December from Belgrade airport to London. UNHCR continues to promote and facilitate orderly legal pathways for refugees to safeguard family unity and access effective protection, which we hope to scale-up with increased registration, asylum-requests and -recognitions in Serbia.  The Psychological Innovation Network (PIN), supported by UNHCR, held a public presentation of the results of its study on “Mental health of refugees – establishing communication and trust”. The event, attended by representatives of the authorities, UN, civil society and media, was an opportunity to stress the importance of psychosocial support to the refugee population staying longer in the country, in order to help them normalize their life and ensure their empowerment and growth in a participatory manner.  Reports by UNHCR and partners suggest that smuggling continues to pose great risks to the health of refugees in the South, East, Belgrade and North, especially in winter. A young refugee from Iraq reported that he had to leave his sister with a broken leg in the freezing mountains near the border with Bulgaria, where after he and a few other victims were locked up in an apartment for days by smugglers in Belgrade.
  • 55 asylum-seekers were admitted into the two Hungarian “transit zones”. Some 140 are awaiting admission outside the zones on Serbian territory. UNHCR and partners encountered over 70 foreign nationals who reported to have been collectively expelled from Hungary and over 35 from Croatia, without having been granted access to asylum procedures there, some claiming disproportionate use of force by Hungarian or Croatian police. Among those expelled, there were over 20 unaccompanied and separated children.
  • On 14 December, UNHCR Serbia organized a 2016 Review and 2017 Planning Meeting with all its implementing partners, followed by end of the year reception for its partners from the government, civil society, UN system and diplomatic missions to express gratitude for their continued support to refugees and UNHCR.
  • 180 refugees/migrants registered intent to seek asylum, making the total for the month of December 508, and for the year to 12,349.