UNHCR Serbia Update, 6 - 8 March 2017
HIGHLIGHTS AND STATISTICS
Close to 7,800 refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants were counted in Serbia. 85% (or 6,613) of them were sheltered in 17 heated government facilities. The rest stayed rough in Belgrade city centre or the North.
In the evening of 08 March, it was reported that one refugee/migrant man may have drowned in the Danube while trying to irregularly cross back into the EU. While circumstances and further details of the accident are pending police investigation, this would represent yet another tragic result of the risks refugees and migrants take in trying to reach Western Europe irregularly, in the absence of sufficient legal pathways.
Hungarian authorities admitted 32 asylum seekers into procedures at the Hungarian “transit zones” near Kelebija and Horgos border crossings. During the same period, some 38 asylum-seekers reported to UNHCR and partners to have been denied access to asylum procedures in Hungary but instead collectively expelled back into Serbia, with some alleging severe maltreatment by Hungarian authorities, such as beatings, pouring cold water over them, wilful destruction of their phones, etc.
On 06 March, spokesperson of the UNHCR in Geneva expressed concern about a new law which was adopted that very day by the Hungarian Parliament and which foresees the mandatory detention of all asylum seekers, including many children, for the entire length of the asylum procedure. In practice, it means that every asylum- seeker, including children, will be detained in shipping containers surrounded by high razor wire fence at the border for extended periods of time. The full UNHCR statement can be found here. The EC Commissioner for Human Rights also expressed his concern over the new Hungarian law, as well as on recent recommendation of the European Commission on more and longer detention of migrants in this statement.
Between 01 and 08 March, 170 intents to seek asylum in Serbia were registered.