A boy from Afghanistan asking for open borders, Belgrade
Current Context in Serbia
Many Borders Closed to Refugees
During the second quarter of 2017, increased numbers of refugees tried to re-enter Western Europe through Croatia, and a new trend appeared: more and more refugees tried to enter through Romania, while a large number decided to return to Greece through Serbia, then FYR Macedonia, due to the restrictive policies in many European Union countries, which have closed their borders to refugees. Additionally, a high number of pushbacks from the Hungarian border into Serbia continued throughout this period.
The most recent data show that the number of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants in Serbia is about 6,000. Of these, more than 5,000 (about 83%) were accommodated in one of five asylum centers or thirteen reception centers as of June 2017, and the majority are from Afghanistan, followed by nationals of Pakistan, Syria, and Iraq.
Patients in front of RMF’s mobile clinic, Obrenovac Camp
New Mobile Medical Clinic Opens in Obrenovac
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 team worked in greater Belgrade from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM and at the mobile clinic in Obrenovac Reception Centre from 3:00 PM to 11:00 PM. 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:
- In April 2017, RMF’s mobile medical clinic was set up at the Obrenovac Reception Centre, with approval from the Ministry of Health and Serbian Commissariat for Refugees and Migration. After a period of preparation, which involved the development of protocols and fully stocking medical supplies within the clinic, we commenced operations in the mobile medical clinic at Obrenovac in May 2017. The mobile clinic helped strengthen our response to the acute emergencies in overcrowded Obrenovac Reception Centre, providing a versatile space from which our frontline medical workers and cultural mediators and translators can provide primary healthcare services.
- RMF Serbia continued to provide medical services, interpretation, translation and cultural mediation, escorting, and transportation to secondary medical and other facilities in 72 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.
An RMF Medical Officer treating and monitoring a patient’s clinic in the middle of the night wound to ensure that it heals without infection
8,821 Health Consultations Provided
Over the period of three months, with an average daily OPD of 96 patients, RMF Serbia provided a total of 8,821 health consultations to men, women, and children in Belgrade, Obrenovac, and Adaševci.
- RMF Serbia provided 4,201 health consultations to men, women, and children refugees and migrants in Belgrade and Obrenovac.
- RMF Serbia provided 4,620 health consultations to men, women and children refugees and migrants in Adaševci Transit Centre in Western Serbia.
RMF Serbia’s mobile medical clinic near “the Barracks”
Effects of Untreated Hepatitis B Infection
25-year-old man from Afghanistan
On April 10, 2017, a young man came into our mobile clinic, which was stationed next to “the Barracks.” He told us that he had vomited blood just before coming to the clinic. He claimed that he had lost around 400 ml of fresh blood by vomiting and that he was feeling weak and tired. We managed to find a Pashto language translator and discovered that the patient had the same symptoms in Bulgaria 2 months before, and that he had lost the papers from the hospital. The young man also explained that he had been diagnosed with hepatitis B a few years before, but had not received any treatment.
We examined the patient and discovered that his spleen was enlarged. Our mobile team immediately took him to the ER, where he was examined and diagnosed with gastrointestinal bleeding, anemia, and an enlarged spleen. During his stay at the hospital, he underwent a gastroscopy, which showed that he has gastritis and enlarged esophageal veins. The patient’s final diagnosis was hepatic encephalopathy, and he was treated in the intensive care unit. After he was discharged, we notified CRCP about his case, and they managed to get him into a state camp, where he can be constantly monitored by a team of doctors.
Marginalized Local Population
46-year-old man from Serbia
In the area of “the Barracks,” where RMF’s team often worked before the buildings were demolished in May 2017, we provided care for refugees and migrants that were not in the camps and had no access to medical care, hygiene facilities, or any type of protection and care. Long before the migrant crisis occurred, however, marginalized local populations were living in “the Barracks,” and with the arrival of RMF’s medical team, they finally had someone to turn to for help.
We were approached by a homeless Serbian man who had been living on the streets of Belgrade for the last 8 years. He did not have any documents or a medical card, and he desperately needed help. One month before, he had an accident and had a severe (stage III) burn on his lower left leg, and it had been neglected. His wound was infected and in bad condition. The patient also had hepatitis C and diabetes mellitus. We took him to the plastic surgery hospital, where his wound was cleaned and our team was instructed how to treat it until next check-up. After antibiotic therapy and regular dressing, his wound had improved.
- 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.