The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 brought significant changes around the world and in various aspects of life, and thus in migration. With the declaration of the corona virus pandemic, refugees in Serbia found themselves in an extremely unfavorable position, facing restrictive measures, restrictions and abolition of freedom of movement, lack of accommodation, insufficient basic living conditions, violence and discrimination.
Accommodation centers in the south of Serbia (Preševo, Bujanovac, Vranje, Pirot, Divljana), which were sporadically closed until the beginning of 2020 depending on the number of people in need of accommodation, have become full again throughout the year, especially during the emergency state, functioned at full capacity. Despite the new circumstances, migrations continued and between 50 and 150 people entered Serbia every day, but with noticeably increased violence on the border between Serbia and Northern Macedonia and the establishment of a continuous practice of pushing people back to northern Macedonia. , in addition to existing readmission agreements or other procedures and regulations.
The report presented the findings of the southern office of Asylum Protection Center (APC/CZA), based in Presevo, on pushbacks by Serbian police on the border with northern Macedonia, as well as on the living conditions of refugees in reception centers in Presevo. , Bujanovac and Vranje, which occurred during the monitoring of respect for human rights of refugees during 2020. All information, trends and conclusions are the product of field observations and interviews of APC/CZA officials with refugees in the field, during which refugees testified about their experience during meetings with officials of the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration, the administration of reception centers, Serbian Border Police and the experience of staying in reception centers in the south of Serbia.
Find out more about push back practices on Serbia’s southern borders in our report.