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Serbia: Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support

Helping a Colleague in Need: November 2017

December 18, 2017
Dr. Mina Novaković

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A Fellow Doctor


This is the story of one of RMF Serbia’s patients: a medical doctor, age 55, from Afghanistan. He wanted to stay anonymous for security reasons. He is afraid of the Taliban’s possible revenge upon his family in Afghanistan because he was brave enough to decide to leave and seek a better future. He told RMF Serbia how he wishes to reunite with a close family member living in an EU country, but again, he didn’t want us to publish more details in order not to jeopardize them. His fear tells us a story of the living conditions in his home country, especially the constant fear that people feel for their lives and the lives of their loved ones. His voice must be heard and his battle known, because this is not a story about just one man. Our patient represents millions of those who are fleeing, seeking only what every human being deserves and many of us take for granted—a chance to lead a normal life in a safe environment.



Our patient wanted to stay anonymous for security reasons.

Our patient’s journey started one and a half years ago, and he traveled to Serbia through Iran, Turkey, and Bulgaria. The majority of people residing in the refugee camp in Obrenovac (30 km from Belgrade, where RMF’s medical mobile clinic is stationed), are young men in their twenties and early thirties. Most are capable, both physically and mentally, of dealing with the hardships of a refugee’s life in a much easier way than our 55-year-old interviewee.

For six months, our patient had been residing in abandoned warehouses in the Belgrade city center, hoping that although living conditions were extremely poor, the proximity of the main bus and train station would allow him to leave the country sooner. At about that time, he started having his first symptoms, which included fatigue and loss of balance. Since he didn’t manage to cross the border, he moved with many others from the city center to the refugee camp in Obrenovac, where he has resided for six months now. Here, his state deteriorated. He developed vertigo, and his balance worsened. Being aware of the seriousness of his symptoms, as he is a medical doctor himself, our patient decided to seek help from RMF Serbia’s medical officers.


One of the abandoned warehouses where refugees used to reside
 

Treatment and Recovery


RMF’s medical outreach team responded swiftly to our patient’s needs. First, we took him to the neurologist in order to exclude an intracranial pathological process. When the worst diagnosis was eliminated, RMF Serbia’s medical officers didn’t want to stop there, and a second specialist examination was scheduled. The patient was taken to an internal medicine specialist for a full body check-up. After the complete physical examination, cardiopulmonary disease was excluded. RMF’s medical team then decided it was time to consult Dr. Dragisa Misovic, an otoneurologist (a doctor specializing in dizziness and balance disorders) at the University Hospital Center. Additional tests were run, and thanks to the persistent effort of RMF’s teams to provide all the necessary medical care, a final diagnosis was made: our patient was suffering from hypovitaminosis B12 induced neuropathy. Needless to say, the adequate therapy was promptly given. He is recovering well.


RMF mobile medical clinic in the refugee camp in Obrenovac

Our patient wanted to thank RMF Serbia for everything they have done for him. He was deeply touched and amazed, on both a personal and professional level, by the devotion and persistence shown by RMF Serbia’s team members in providing him holistic care.

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Background

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.


Objectives
  • 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
  More Reports on:
Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support
        Country Page: Serbia
        Initiative Page: Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support
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