Serbia: Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support

Helping a Colleague in Need: November 2017

December 18, 2017

Dr. Mina Novaković

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.


RMF has been responding to the refugee crisis in Serbia since January 2016, by providing comprehensive protection and medical services, including emergency triage, to persons of concern. Our teams work in and around the Belgrade city center and at Obrenovac Transit and Reception Centre, the second largest refugee camp in Serbia. We operate 3:00 PM to 10:00 PM five days a week at our mobile medical clinic located in Obrenovac, with a second medical team providing referrals for secondary and tertiary care institutions. From 2017 to 2018, we also provided services near the border with Croatia, operating the medical clinic at Adaševci Transit Centre from 4:00 PM to 12:00 AM, seven days a week.

Additional programs include a mobile dental clinic at Obrenovac Transit and Reception Centre—the first of its kind in Serbia—providing dental care for migrants, who previously only had access to emergency interventions. RMF Balkans also distributes hygiene kits at six camps throughout Serbia to help improve personal hygiene and prevent the spread of infectious diseases. To improve the residents’ quality of life, RMF renovated Obrenovac Transit and Reception Centre in 2018 and continues to maintain and use the renovated facilities to conduct cultural and empowerment activities.


  • 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