Source: Beta Photo: Beta
Belgrade, 20 June 2019 – Director of the Asylum Protection Center (APC/CZA) Rados Djurovic assessed today, on the occasion of World Refugee Day, that the biggest challenges regarding refugees in Serbia are related to the speed and efficiency with which migrants can achieve refugee status, their integration into mainstream Serbian society, and the systematic apathy demonstrated towards unaccompanied minors. “From January to early May 2019 out of 2,269 people who wanted to seek asylum, asylum procedure was initiated for only 107 persons, and only 12 refugee protections were granted in Serbia. This is very slow, although it is a progress compared to the previous year, when 11 refugee protections were granted to over 8,433 persons who expressed their intention to seek asylum in 2018. This means that we, in fact, do not know who the refugee is, and who is not, who has rights and obligations, and we cannot separate these two groups, which all together creates problems in practice”, Djurovic said to the Beta agency.
Djurovic added that out of 227 unaccompanied minors who expressed intention to seek asylum in the first four months of 2019, only 19 began the asylum procedure. Since the establishment of Serbia’s asylum system in 2008, only two unaccompanied minors have been granted asylum. “The rest remain in a legal vacuum. The system does not know if they are eligible to be refugees or not,” Djurovic added.
Djurovic emphasized that the largest number of unaccompanied minors is accommodated in collective migrant and asylum centers for adults, where minors do not have the adequate conditions for ensuring their safety. At these centers in which, children are in contact with adults, the minors are completely unprotected from the adults’ influence.
In addition, “they are often left without continuous supervision and care of social workers, and are exposed to the risks of making contact with smugglers, criminals and those who can abuse their vulnerable position. In these centers, children do not have basic conditions for unhindered psychosocial development or necessary conditions for education, nor do they have the proper conditions for socializing with local children and integrating themselves in their local communities”, Djurovic added.
Djurovic said that the issue of integration was imposed as a necessity for all those who have been in Serbia for several years and waiting for the final decision on their claims for asylum, as well as for those who received refugee status.
“This field is not developed enough and most of them face an indefinite stay in our country for many years, living in legal uncertainty, with unresolved status and with the need to have a normal life in the local environment. Slowly, the conditions are created to push these people to the margin, into a parallel and less visible reality, which carries big and new problems and issues, unless we determine whether they are refugees or not,” Djurovic said.
Djurovic stated that Serbia must provide shelter and protection under the Constitution and the Law on Asylum and Temporary Protection for everyone who claims to be a refugee, which includes the right to integration, education, access to the labor market, freedom of movement, private property, health care, identity documents and more.
For those who are not refugees, other legal statutes are applicable, such as deportation, temporary protection, subsidiary protection, return to the country of previous residence, etc.
“If we were to determine more quickly whether someone is a refugee or not, it would be clarified who has rights and obligations in the country too. If the special center for the admission of unaccompanied minors were opened that would speed up the procedures for them, while protecting children from crime, smuggling and trafficking. And if the refugees would more easily and quickly integrate into society, they would soon cease to be seen as a burden of on the system and become a more equal part of society,” said the APC director on the occasion of the World Refugee Day.