Serbia is one of the transit countries for refugees heading to the EU. Recently the number of arrivals increased dramatically. It reached 2,500-3,000 persons per day putting severe pressure on the existing reception capacities of the country. According to official Serbian sources of information, during the first eight months of 2015 more than 100,000 registered as asylum seekers in the country. The large majority of the recent flow of refugees are Syrians (67%), Iraqis (15%) and Afghans (7%). The real figures are much higher as the reported numbers of registered constitutes approximately half of the total number of people transiting through the country. People arrive exhausted and in need of food, water, medical services and shelter. They frequently have to stay out in the open without minimal food and sanitation conditions.
Serbia is a signatory to both the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. The country also ratified the Geneva Convention’s 1967 Protocol.
As of 31 August, 37,195 people expressed the intention to seek asylum, which brings the total number of applications from the beginning of 2015 to 104,915.
On 9 September 2015, the European Commission issued a proposal for an EU regulation establishing an EU common list of safe countries of origin and amending the Directive 2013/32/EU. The proposal includes also Serbia.
The Government of Serbia attempts to improve the reception facilities. There are three new assistance centres established close to the border with FYROM on the way to Preševo (Tabanovce TS Refugee Aid Point, Preševo One Stop Centre and Miratovac Refugee Aid Point) and another one in Kanjiža (Staro Vašarište Refugee Aid Point). It works in close collaboration with the UNHCR to provide the necessary assistance to refugees. However, the increasing number of arrivals requires further efforts. The Serbian government has asked for international support in the area of reception, asylum and migration management. Taking into account the urgent need to create shelters for refugees, the European Union will grant €3.2 million to the Serbian government to build reception centres. Also, the EU Delegation in Serbia, in addition to the €240,000 already invested, will provide €400,000, to improve the conditions in temporary accommodation centres in Belgrade and Presevo.
The Inter-Ministerial Working Group on Mixed Migration Flows was established by the Government to coordinate the actions in response to the refugee crisis. The UNHCR is the leading international organization providing aid and assistance. It actively collaborates with local state bodies such as the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Serbian Commissariat for Refugees and Migration. The Serbian Government supported by the UNHCR has established centres to facilitate the registration and access to humanitarian and medical assistance to refugees with specific needs. Thanks to the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, the refugees with specific needs are able to receive legal assistance and guidance through the asylum procedures in Belgrade. Under the joint initiative the municipality of Belgrade, the UNHCR and its partners, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and the BCHR, an Asylum Info Centre was established.
Besides the mentioned UNHCR institutions, partners include the UN Country Team, Amity, the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), CRS, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), the Humanitarian Centre for Integration, MSF and Tolerance (HCIT), Indigo, INTERSOS, Microfins, Praxis, Sigma Plus and Vizija