Serbia: Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support
Serbia Progress Report – March 28 – April 3, 2016
April 14, 2016
Summary of Activities
- In March, 699 refugees expressed intent to seek asylum in Serbia.
- Belgrade is increasingly receiving more refugees and playing host to people smugglers as new pathways into Hungary are found.
- It was predicted that a new route would open up from Turkey to Italy however at a cost of 4000 euros per person it is unlikely that the path will shift from the Western Balkans route.
- The statistics being reported by UNHCR are completely different to our experience in the field. Many refugees are entering Serbia in very poor medical condition after walking through Albania and Montenegro to Serbia.
- Last week 12 women and 40 children from Adaševci and Šid were moved to Tutin Asylum Center. The hygiene in the camp is extremely poor (rats, mice) and there is a complete lack of NGOs. They returned to Adaševci and Šid after a few days.
- 27 children assisted
- Provided medical examinations
- Treated infections, diahreea and physcological needs
- Assisted in finding food, clothes, shoes and diapers
- 63 young adults assisted
- provided medical examinations
- Treatment for leg pain, dressing of wounds, mainly of the feet
- Assisted in finding food, clothes, vitamins and shelter
- Provision of protection information, pathways for seeking asylum in Serbia_
- 191 youth assisted
- Treatment for open sores and wounds, injuries, respiratory problems, cold and flu, and bandaging feet
- Treatment for inflamed joints, leg pain and dehydration due to the long walk
- Providing referrals to obtain food, clothes, medication, and shelter
- 37 adults treated
- Treatment mainly for headaches
- Provided transportation for asylum seekers
- Provided information for protection and provided jackets
- 1 older adult treated
- Performed a medical examination
- Provision of protection information
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
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Impact for this Period
- RMF Serbia registration finalized on March 31, 2016. Paperwork and certificate received on April 1, 2016.
- Contacted the Commissariat, meeting scheduled with the Commissioner to obtain approval to work inside the refugee camps within Serbia.
- Developed a fieldwork protocol for collaborating with other humanitarian actors.
- Continued to disseminate our hotline number to other humanitarian service providers. Flyers in Farsi and Arabic are to be developed.
- Facilitated ongoing support and induction with the project coordinator/medical officer.
- Procured medical supplies and ordered staff uniforms.
- Facilitated the procurement of Foundation legal stamps.
- DRC has expressed an interest in working with us.
- Commenced 24-hour shifts for RMF’s medical teams on March 29th (7am-3pm, 3pm-11pm and 11pm–7am). RMF is now the only NGO providing 24/7 access to health care.
- RMF team has a hotline and is receiving requests and referrals from MSF, Praxis and the Asylum Info Center.
Creating Solutions to Needs in Serbia
- Most NGO’s have taken their translators and interpreters to Greece, leaving a depleted skilled and trained workforce to effectively address the refugee crisis in Serbia. RMF currently has one Arabic and one Farsi translator; the other translators are being borrowed from the Asylum Info Center with whom we are collaborating closely. This relationship is working well as we have doctors and a vehicle and the AIC have staff skilled in protection outreach work, and lawyers. On the night shift (11pm – 7am) our team together with the AIC team are supporting each other’s outreach work. We are actively recruiting an additional 4 translators.
- Post rape kits, including the distribution of PEP to prevent HIV infection after rape and emergency contraceptives are not available in Serbia. It is hoped that the medical outreach would switch its operations to a professionally converted mobile clinic where proper consultations can be facilitated (cost of the van is approximately 40,000 euros).
Areas in Need of RMF
- Once meetings with the Ministry of Health and Commissariat have been facilitated the teams will be responding to the Eastern border and Šid in the North West bordering with Croatia, as well as the 7 Asylum Centers located throughout Serbia.
- The majority of international NGOs have been pulling out of Serbia and relocating to Greece. This is leaving gaps in the current response within Serbia. Praxis, a local NGO, providing 24/7 outreach support of food and NFIs, will close their project this month. If NFIs could be procured our teams would be able to assist in a more holistic way by providing blankets in the evening, clothes and shoes as needed, as well as water.
- We are seeking the funding to print brochures in Farsi and Arabic explaining the asylum seeking process, referral pathways and other protection focused information. Smugglers are advising all refugees to not trust anyone and to not communicate with us, but a brochure could encourage the facilitation of discussion and to ensure that refugees are getting all the information they require.
- Support for children particularly the procurement of diapers, baby formula and bottles. Also possibly a small kit for them containing a small toy and drawing block. SHL has a youth fund of maximum award being 2000 euros; RMF will apply for this funding to procure these small kits for children to travel with. Each kit will cost 5 euros to assemble; this funding should make 400 kits. Approaching refugees with something to offer them facilitates communication and encourages a relationship of trust.
- A medical fund should be set up to assist refugees in procuring prescription drugs which must be paid for.