Serbia: Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support

Developing Partnerships to Address the Needs of Refugees: September 2016

January 19, 2017
N’Deane Helajzen

Summary of Activities

With continued irregular arrivals and limited departures, the estimated number of refugees/ migrants/asylum seekers in Serbia rose to 5,700. UNHCR reports that the number of arrivals remains at around 200 refugees/migrants per day. Of those entering Serbia, around 54% came from Bulgaria, 33% from FYR Macedonia, 10% from Albania, 0.4% from Montenegro, and 2.6% from unknown locations. Hungarian authorities continued to admit around 20 asylum seekers through the transit zones in Horgoš and Kelebija on the northern border.

By the end of September, the number of people present daily in Belgrade parks rose to 1,000, while the number of those sleeping out in the open rose to over 500 persons on average. Even though undocumented persons could still be accommodated in Krnjača Asylum Centre (AC), by the end of September it became difficult to accommodate all those in need of shelter, even families with children, since Krnjača AC was also full.

RMF Serbia’s Achievements and Impact in the Belgrade City Center

A high number of refugees in the Belgrade City Center are considered extremely vulnerable individuals, many with pressing medical needs that go beyond performing basic triage in the field. Once RMF’s outreach team identifies a patient, an examination and assessment is made of the individual’s health condition and referral options. We then treat the patient in situ to stabilize their condition, before seeking referral papers and transferring the patient to secondary and/or tertiary care if needed. RMF’s outreach team then stays with the patient for the duration of his or her consultation and therapy to provide support with cross-cultural interpretation and translation, comfort, and reassurance. We then transport the patient back to his or her chosen location. Such consultations can take up to 8 hours due to patient wait times within the state facilities.

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Maintaining and Building


  • Serbia

    Cooperation in Belgrade

    Joint Efforts

    RMF participated in the ad hoc coordination meeting of humanitarian partners operating in Belgrade, chaired by UNHCR on September 9th.

  • Serbia

    Current Situation

    Staying Up to Date

    RMF participated in the monthly partners’ briefing on September 6th in Belgrade. This is where UNHCR/UNRC, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the MOL/Chair of Government WG on Mixed Migration update the diplomatic corps, donors, and NGOs on the refugee/migrant situation and the response of UN agencies and their partners in the previous reporting period.

  • Serbia

    Coordinating Services

    Working Side by Side

    RMF participated in the Refugee Protection Working Group (PRWG), co-chaired by UNHCR and the MOL on September 27th at Hotel Zira in Belgrade. This meeting is the key coordination mechanism for agencies and NGOs operational in the country, as well as a source of information for donors or diplomatic missions who attend as observers.

  • Serbia

    Creating Standards

    Focused on Child Safty

    RMF participated in the Child Protection Sub-Working Group on September 23rd, which focused on the importance of creating minimum standards for child-friendly spaces in Serbia. A drafting committee was established, including representatives from the Ministry of Labor (MOL), tasked with presenting a first draft to the group in the first week of October.

  • Serbia

    Gender-Based Violence

    Final Draft of Procedures

    RMF participated in the third meeting of the GBV SOP Working Group to review the final draft of the Standard Operating Procedures for Gender-Based Violence in Crisis Situations, hosted by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran, and Social Affairs at Hotel Zira on September 29th.

  • Serbia

    Helping Partners Provide Care

    Services and Referrals

    RMF provided monitoring and follow-up services for our patients and received referrals from UNHCR/DRC doctors, Palilula Health Centre doctors working within Camp Krnjača, Doctors of the World (MSM), Save the Children, Praxis organization, ADRA Serbia, and the Asylum Information Centre (AIC).

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& Objectives


Serbia continues to face an increasing number of asylum seekers: since the beginning of the refugee crisis, 393,069 people were registered in Serbia. Since January 2016, RMF has been responding to the refugee crisis by providing comprehensive protection and medical services to persons of concern. Our team works in and around Belgrade providing 24/7 access to needed services. Our main goal is to provide first aid and basic primary health care for refugees in Serbia. Our team also has the skills to identify and refer extremely vulnerable individuals—women, children, victims of sexual or gender based violence, victims of human trafficking, or victims of other forms of exploitation—for appropriate assistance and follow up by relevant institutions.

  • Provide comprehensive protection and assistance response
  • Provide material assistance and information
  • Provide psychosocial support
  • Provide translation and cultural mediation services
  • Support existing medical institutions with capacity and mobility
  • Establish an information dissemination hotline
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1,112 patients treated

an average of 37 patients per day.
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Girl from Iraq

Age: 4


We examined the girl using an otoscope. A little round subject was seen in her ear canal.


We decided to take her to the otorhinolaryngology specialist in the ORL clinic of the Clinical Centre of Serbia. When we arrived, the senior specialist examined her and tried to pull the subject out using several different instruments. The foreign body was very deep, so she directed us to the university ORL assistant. We followed our patient to the other doctor and explained what had happened. She examined her and tried to pull the subject out but was unsuccessful. She indicated hospitalization of the child and arranged an operation for 6 PM that day. She directed us to Tiršova Children’s Hospital, where the girl needed to be examined by a pediatric specialist because she required general anesthesia. We transported the mother and girl to the Children’s Clinic, where the pediatrician examined her and blood and urine tests were done. The girl is healthy, so the pediatrician allowed general anesthesia and we transported our patient and mother back to the ORL clinic. We followed the mother and baby through the process of hospitalization and explained the treatment plan.

Additional Treatment
  • Transportation to hospitals
  • Gave toys and a notebook

Boy from Afghanistan

Age: 6


He felt pain in the epigastrium and nausea.


We went to Camp Krnjača and took the boy with his father. We decided to transport him to the Children’s Hospital to be examined by a pediatrician. While we were transporting him, he vomited once in the car. There were no sings of blood in the vomited mass. When we arrived at the hospital, he was examined by a pediatric surgeon, who indicated blood and urine tests to be done. Urine test showed a bacterial infection, and the surgeon indicated examination by a pediatrician. The pediatrician indicated blood gas analyses to be done because the child vomited. They were normal. We provided antibiotics because of the urinary infection and a probiotic for the abdominal pain.

Other Aid

We transported him back to Camp Krnjača.

Boy from Syria

Age: 7 days


Born in the woods in eastern Serbia 7 days before


We went to the Neonatolgy Insitute, where a baby from a Syrian mother is hospitalized because of low weight. He is only 1,480 g and is currently in an incubator. Vists are only allowed for the mother and father of the child, but since the mother is in the Gynecology Clinc and the father in Preševo, we could see the child. The doctor said it is too early to say something about him because his situation could change in minutes, but he progressed a little in his weight.

Other Aid

We called both of the parents and informed them about their child.

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