A group of refugees sleeping outside in Belgrade
Current Context in Serbia
Slight Decrease in Refugees and Asylum Seekers
During the third quarter of 2017, the number of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants declined slightly in Serbia, with 4,250 counted on September 30, 2017. Of these, 3,900 were accommodated in one of five asylum centres or thirteen reception centres. 300 persons of concern remain housed in temporary emergency shelters. According to available information, 41% are children, 14% adult women, and 45% adult men. At least 80% came from so-called refugee-producing countries (63% Afghanistan, 13% Iraq, and 4% Syria), 11% from Pakistan, and 9% from other countries.
The beginning of the new school year brought a hopeful surprise for refugee and migrant children. A pilot program by the Serbian government allowed around 450 of some 800 refugee and migrant children ages 7–14 to start attending public primary schools across the country alongside their Serbian peers. The refugee and migrant children are integrated into Serbian children’s classrooms, where they have learned the Serbian language and can comfortably follow lessons.
In September, 589 persons registered intention to seek asylum in Serbia (as compared to 282 in August). 51% were filed by adult men, 15% by adult women and 34% were registered for children. Most asylum applicants were from Iraq (46), Afghanistan (14), Pakistan (13), or Syria (10). The Asylum Office granted one person subsidiary protection, increasing the number of positive first-instance decision during this year to three.
RMF doctor accepting new patients with a smile, Obrenovac Reception Centre
Providing Quality Healthcare
During this period, the outreach mobile medical team was operating 16 hours a day (from 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM), 7 days a week. Our teams worked in greater Belgrade from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM and, including driving time, at the mobile clinic in Obrenovac Reception Centre from 2:00 PM to 11:00 PM, 7 days a week. The medical clinic in Adaševci Transit Centre continued operating from 4:00 PM to midnight, 7 days a week.
RMF Serbia’s team continued to provide holistic medical care and support to persons of concern:
- RMF Serbia provided 3,844 health consultations to men, women, and children refugees and migrants in Belgrade and Obrenovac .
- RMF Serbia provided 4,658 health consultations to men, women, and children refugees and migrants in Adaševci Transit Centre in Western Serbia.
- RMF Serbia continued to provide medical services, interpretation, translation and cultural mediation, escorting, and transportation to secondary medical and other facilities in 87 cases.
- RMF provided assorted drugs and medical care, as well as hygiene packs, safety kits, and children’s kits to support the response to refugees.
Over the period of three months, with an average daily OPD of 94 patients, RMF Serbia provided a total of 8,502 men, women, and children with health services in Belgrade, Obrenovac, and Adaševci.
Our 17-year-old TB patient resting in an examination room
Persistent Follow-Up for Tuberculosis
In August 2017, RMF’s clinic and the mobile team was asked to help a 17-year-old boy who was traveling alone through Serbia. For the last few months, he had been placed in Obrenovac Reception Centre, where he was under the protection of the state. The boy was experiencing a consistent fever, night sweats, and coughing up blood. Considering the seriousness of his condition and possible diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB), RMF’s team, together with social welfare, took over the case. The boy was taken to get an x-ray, which showed consolidations of the lung area and hilar enlargement, consistent with a possible TB infection. As soon as the diagnosis was made, the boy was admitted to the Hospital for Lung Diseases for further diagnostics.
Four days following his admission to the hospital, the boy escaped and decided to return to the Obrenovac Reception Centre. After numerous efforts to make a connection with him and build trust, RMF’s team finally managed to convince the boy to return to the hospital, where he was treated for TB. By providing persistent follow-up, RMF’s team was able to protect the boy and those around him.
- Improve the health status and overall wellbeing of refugees in Obrenovac Reception and Transit Centre and greater Belgrade.
- Provide medical and translation services to refugees and act as cultural mediators for them at public institutions in Serbia.
- Refer, transport, and escort refugees and asylum seekers to secondary and tertiary medical care facilities in Belgrade.
RMF provides primary healthcare and emergency triage services at our Obrenovac Transit Centre mobile medical clinic from 3:00 PM to 10:00 PM, 5 days a week. The work is implemented by a medical team consisting of 1 to 2 doctors, 1 cultural mediator/translator, and 2 drivers. This ensures that emergency cases arriving at the clinic can immediately access referrals to secondary and tertiary care facilities. By providing primary healthcare services, referrals, and cultural mediation, RMF improves the wellbeing of refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers in Belgrade and Obrenovac.