UNHCR Serbia Update, 26 December 2016 - 1 January 2017
Highlights and Statistics
- Overall count of new refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants presently in Serbia stood at 7,000, with over 5,800 (i.e. 83%) accommodated in 16 governmental facilities (see chart), and the remainder sleeping rough in Belgrade City centre or at the border with Hungary.
- Tragic incidents again highlighted the serious risks refugees and migrants face in the hands of smugglers and the need for greater access to safe pathways. In one incident, an Iraqi asylum seeker reported that smugglers forced him to abandon his sister in the mountains as they crossed from Bulgaria as she could no longer walk. He provided Serbian authorities with details of the incident and GPS coordinates but unfortunately, she had passed away before she could be rescued. On 29 December, a vehicle reportedly driven by a smuggler carrying 17 refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, of which nine children, crashed in Eastern Serbia, and according to available information, left one woman and two children dead and several others in serious condition. The survivors were all immediately taken care of by the medical services in Nis (East), and UNHCR and partners provided additional support and assistance. The relatives of the victims living in Europe also came to visit and support their relatives.
- Supporting access to better accommodation and services as well as the decongesting of Belgrade city centre, UNHCR and partners assisted 89 newly-registered asylum seekers with transport from Belgrade to the centres in the East.
- 74 asylum-seekers were admitted into the two Hungarian “transit zones”. Under 100 are awaiting admission outside the zones on Serbian territory. UNHCR and partners received reports of over 195 foreign nationals claiming to have been collectively expelled from Hungary and 12 from Croatia, after entering these countries irregularly.
- UNHCR, authorities and partners organized various New Year’s activities and gift distribution for refugee children in the centres throughout the country.
- 258 refugees/migrants registered intent to seek asylum, bringing the total for the month of December to 1,120, and for the year to 12,961.