UNHCR Serbia Update, 26 November - 16 December 2018
4,346 refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants were present in Serbia on 16 December – an increase from 4,030 three weeks ago. Of them, 4,056 (i.e. 93%) were accommodated in 16 governmental Reception/Transit (RTC) or Asylum Centres (AC). This number includes close to 300 mainly single men accommodated in rub halls in Adasevci and Principovac RTC. Additionally, some 300, also male refugees/migrants, were observed outside the centres: 100 in Belgrade City and some 180 camping close to borders with Croatia or Hungary while with onset of cold weather very few were in Loznica at the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
On 30 November, Sid RTC, which was closed in June 2017, reopened, after the Serbian Commissioner for Refugees and Migration (SCRM), aiming to make it a family centre, relocated some 30 families from RTCs Principovac and Adasevci. Following the relocation of all families from the Principovac RTC, the latter became an exclusively single men accommodation facility.
In November 2018, 752 foreigners registered intentions to seek asylum in Serbia. (below chart refers) Among them, 57% were adult men, 4% adult women and 39% children. Most intentions were filed by citizens of Afghanistan (54%), Iraq (13%), Iran (9%), Pakistan (7%) and Syria (7%). One application received positive decision (refugee status) and one application was rejected, making the total of 24 positive decisions by the Asylum Office so far in 2018.
UNHCR and partners observed and/or assisted 788 newly-arriving refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants, 44% were from Afghanistan (down from 47%), 21% from Iraq (up from 10%), 9% from Pakistan (down from 14%), 7% from Syria (down from 12%) and 3% of Iran (down from 6%). Of them, 52% arrived from fYRo Macedonia (down from 61%), 37% from Bulgaria (up from 23%), while only 5% again arrived by air. Men constituted 72%, women 4% while 24% were children, including 148 Unaccompanied and Separated Children (UASC).
UNHCR and partners received reports of 562 collective expulsions: 350 from Croatia, 106 from Romania, 61 from Hungary and 45 from BiH. 76% of these reports alleged denial of access to asylum procedures and 17% mistreatment by authorities of these neighbouring countries.
Hungarian authorities admitted 26 asylum-seekers from Serbia into territory and procedures in their so-called “transit zones” at Horgos and Kelebija border crossings.
On 5 December, UNHCR’s partner Psychosocial Innovation Network (PIN) presented its latest study on the Psychological well-being of Refugees in Serbia. A panel of experts from national health institutions, authorities, UN and civil society organizations discussed the relation between mental health and integration, unified standards of services, and the importance of multisector collaboration to improve refugees’ mental health.
Also on 5 December - celebrating International Volunteer Day - two Roma youth volunteers from the Joint UNHCR/UNDP/UNV Project “Local Initiatives for Improved Social Inclusion of Young Roma” shared best practices and their impact on building resilience within local communities, at an event organized by UNV Serbia.
On 6 December - during Human Rights Week, commemorating 70 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which also enshrined the right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution - beneficiaries of the Refugee Housing Programme hosted representatives of the EU Delegation, United States Embassy, Council of Europe, SCRM, OSCE and UNHCR at a symbolic housewarming.
UNHCR and partners organized several activities in support of integration and wellbeing of refugee children, women and men. On 4 and 12 December, over 30 UASC accommodated in Krnjaca AC visited the National Museum of Serbia and the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade. On 12 December, seven refugees received computers, catering equipment or subscription to courses from the UNHCR livelihood programme. On 14 and 15 December, refugee women from Adasevci RTC showcased their handicrafts at two Christmas Bazars in Belgrade.
UNHCR Serbia compiled and issued an Statistical : November Monthly Snapshot, and updated November Joint Assessment of Government Centres.