The European Asylum Office (EUAA) confirmed yesterday that over 106,000 people from Afghanistan and Syria have applied for asylum in the European Union in 2021, which is the highest number since 2016. Most of them had to pass through the Balkan route and through Serbia from the Middle East and Turkey on their way to the EU in 2021.
On the other hand, in 2021, in Serbia, in the camps run by the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia, 68,308 people were officially accommodated, not counting people who stayed along the border areas and outdoors, outside the reception center system.
Of all persons who entered Serbia in 2021, only 2,306 persons managed to register their intention to seek asylum in Serbia, of which only 172 persons managed to apply for asylum, and only 14 of them received asylum in Serbia ( 7 persons in the scope of asylum and 7 persons in the scope of subsidiary protection).
All of the above shows that access to the asylum procedure and its fair and efficient functioning in Serbia is disabled in 2021, which makes the situation of refugees more difficult on a daily basis, many of whom are housed in camps and who are therefore at increased risk of violence and abuse, crime, smuggling, human trafficking or discrimination, because they are legally invisible to institutions, while all institutions of the system do not know the scope of the rights and obligations of these persons in Serbia due to their legally undetermined position.
Although the legally unregulated basis of residence in Serbia is unacceptable according to Serbian regulations, the largest number of refugees are not in any procedure while staying in camps on the territory of Serbia. In this way, refugees have the appearance of being in the system, because they are housed in camps run by the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia, but in reality they are not visible to institutions despite receiving current emergency accommodation, food and basic living conditions in camps.
Access to timely and verified legal information is extremely limited for these people, while access to lawyers from professional organizations is often restricted by the administration of reception camps managed by the Commissioner for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia.
Having the mentioned situation and statistics in mind, the improvement of the functioning of the asylum procedure is set as a priority for Serbia in 2022 and in the following years, when it comes to the area of asylum and migration in the country.