Another tragic accident illustrated the dangers of the current situation of mixed movements of people: On 11 November the police near Loznica found a body of a man suspected to have drowned in the Drina River. While the investigation is ongoing, local media reported that some ten days ago, when a group of refugees/migrants tried to cross the river into Bosnia, two young men from Iran disappeared. It is suspected that the body now found may belong to one of them.
3,711 new refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants were assisted in Serbia on 11 November - a decrease from 3,919 two weeks ago. Of them, 3,256 (i.e. 88%) were accommodated in 15 governmental Reception/Transit (RTC) or Asylum Centres (AC), while around 450 mainly male refugees/migrants were observed outside centres: 200 in Belgrade City, some 200 camping close to borders with Croatia or Hungary and up to 50 in Loznica, close to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The number of newly arriving refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants remained high, with 1,076 observed or assisted by UNHCR and partners (compared to 1,207 the preceding fortnight). 47% were from Pakistan (up from 28%), 34% from Afghanistan (down from 40%), and 5% of Iran (down from 17%). Men constituted 91%, women only 2% while 7% were children, including 49 Unaccompanied and Separated Children (UASC). 75% arrived from fYRo Macedonia (up from 58%), 20% from Bulgaria (down from 22%), 4% by air (down from 16%), and 5% from other destinations.
In October 2018, 700 foreigners registered intentions to seek asylum in Serbia. Among them, 58% were adult men, 7% adult women and 35% children. Most intentions were filed by citizens of Afghanistan (33%), Iran (31%) or Pakistan (22%), followed by Syria (3%), Bangladesh (2%), and other countries. No application received positive decision in October and four applications were rejected, leaving the number of positive decisions by the Asylum Office so far in 2018 at 23 in total. A total of 6,899 intentions to seek asylum in Serbia and 234 asylum applications have been registered/submitted in 2018 as at end-October.
UNHCR and partners received 602 reports of collective expulsions (compared to 678 in the preceding fortnight): 395 from Croatia (up from 324), 106 from BiH (down from 278), 54 from Hungary (up from 11) and 47 from Romania (up from 12). 73% of these reports alleged denial of access to asylum procedures and 21% mistreatment by authorities of these neighbouring countries.
Hungarian authorities admitted 17 asylum seekers from Serbia into territory and procedures in their so-called “transit zones” at Horgos and Kelebija border crossings, compared to nine the preceding fortnight.
31 October – 2 November in Subotica, UNHCR and the Asylum Office organized a seminar on the access of UASC to asylum procedures, attended by representatives from the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Social and Veteran Affairs, Ministry of Interior, Serbian Commissariat for Refugees and Migration, Centres for Social Welfare and UNHCR partners. Participants agreed and concluded that all UASC should have access to asylum procedure regardless of application deadlines.
UNHCR Serbia compiled and posted October Statistical Snapshot, UNHCR Serbia November Fact Sheet well as the October Update of Joint Assessment of Site Profiles.
On 29 October, UNHCR, UNDP and UNV organized a seminar on the Institutional and Strategic Framework for the Improvement of Employment of Roma in Serbia. After an encouraging opening by the Minister for Public Administration and Local Self-Government, Roma youth activists and representatives of local self-governments discussed initiatives for social inclusion of Roma youth and Roma women, including experiences of municipalities in the development, adoption and implementation and possibilities for financing measures from Local Action Plans for Local Self-Governments.
On 31 October, UNHCR partner A11 Initiative organized a Forum on Remaining problems on the path towards the full realization of human rights of IDPs in Serbia. The panellists included an international expert from the Equal Rights Trust, the Office of the Ombudsman, A 11 Initiative and UNHCR who discussed the remaining problems of IDPs in Serbia and recommendations for improvement of their situation. Also marking the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, A11 Initiative published excellent proposals on Internally Displaced Persons in Serbia: How to Access the Right to a Dignified Life?
On 02 November, marking the fourth Anniversary of its global #IBelong Campaign to End Statelessness by 2024, UNHCR organized a conference on Combating Statelessness in Serbia – Achievements and the Way Forward, After opening remarks by the Minister for Public Administration and Local Self-Governments, the Deputy Ombudsman and UNHCR, a panel of experts from authorities and civil society commended the excellent progress Serbia has made in reducing and preventing statelessness and confirmed continued commitment to resolve outstanding challenges to completely eradicate the occurrence and recurrence of statelessness in the country.
07-09 November, the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights and Grupa 484 hosted the Annual General Conference of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) in Belgrade. Also including a segment on UNHCR - NGO consultations, the conference gathered over 150 representatives of 101 civil society organizations from the whole of Europe, to discuss recent developments in the law, policy and practice of asylum in Europe and recommendations for the defence of the right to asylum.