Refugee Crisis

© UNCT Serbia / Andjela Grozdanic

Highlights – July 2016

  • Amendments in Hungarian legislation allowing for pushbacks of refugees and migrants without access to asylum procedures, who are apprehended in Hungary within 8 km of the border to Serbia, came into effect on 5 July. News of these developments led to a rush to the North of Serbia, which more than doubled the number of asylum-seekers camping at the border for (re-)admission into the EU through the two Hungarian „transit zones“ at Horgos I and Kelebija within the first ten days of July.
  • The Government of Serbia held an emergency session on 17 July and decided that joint police-army patrols would be placed on Serbia's borders, as well as the administrative line with Kosovo and Metohija, effective immediately, to hinder refugee/migrant smuggling activities.
  • A group male asylum-seekers started a hunger strike and set afoot from Belgrade on 22 July towards the northern border in a „peace march“. Upon arrival close to Horgos I „transit zone“, they continued the hunger strike, demanding unhindered access to Hungary and raising the quota for admissions. In the absence of a response from the Hungarian authorities, the protesters ended the hunger strike on 29 July and were accommodated in one of the asylum centres in Serbia. 

Operational Context


With continued irregular arrivals and limited departures, the estimated number of refugees/migrants/asylum seekers in the country rose to 3,600. UNHCR believes that during the reporting period the number of arrivals may have reduced from some 300 to an average 200 refugees/migrants per day (of which, around 62% from FYR Macedonia, 33% from Bulgaria).


Hungarian authorities continued to admit around 30 asylum-seekers through the transit zones in Horgoš and Kelebija, and the number of asylum seekers queuing at the border to enter Hungary peaked at 1,553 on 24 July. Ensuing attempts by the Serbian authorities, UNHCR and partners, to decongest the border sites by offering better conditions in governmental centres bore fruit. As a result, over 56% of aforementioned 3,600 persons were accommodated in governmental facilities, including 547 asylum-seekers in Asylum Centres and 1,498 refugees/migrants in Reception Centres/RAPs, at the end of the reporting period.


Change in admissions policy for Krnjača Asylum Centre (AC), effective as of 14 July, again disallowed unregistered refugees/migrants to use the centre. As a result, around 450 sans papier were overnighting in Belgrade parks, under its bridges and abandoned settlements – a picture evoking similar scenes from Belgrade parks from July/August 2015.

UNHCR and partners maintained the focus on providing food, NFIs, medical assistance and protection to asylum seekers camping at the border with Hungary and refugees/migrants present in Belgrade or in governmental facilities.

Monthly MoI Asylum Statistics for July 2016 indicate that the number of registered intentions to seek asylum in Serbia was 1,532. 47% of registered intention to seek asylum were made by men and 14% were made by women. 39% were registered for children. Most applications were made by citizens of Afghanistan (48%), Syria (18%), Pakistani (14%) and Iraq (10%). During July, two asylum-seekers were granted refugee status and two subsidiary protection, while six applications were rejected (concerning nationals of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan).


UNCT Serbia priorities

  • Ensure that urgent humanitarian and protection needs of refugees are being met.
  • Assist the Government to strengthen the asylum system in line with applicable international standards 

Featured updates, publications, materials

Interagency Operational Update - 

July 2016


Interagency Operational Update -

June 2016


Interagency Operational Update - May 2016

Interagency Operational Update

- April 2016

Serbia - Interagency

Operational Update 29 February - 13 March


Serbia - Interagency

Operational Update 15 - 28 February


Serbia - Interagency Operational
Update 1 - 14 February

Serbia - Interagency Operational Update 18 - 31 January


Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan for Europe 2016


Serbia - Interagency Operational Update 4 - 17 January

Gender Assesment of the Refugee & Migration Crisis in Serbia & FYR Macedonia



Serbia Interagency Operational Update 21 Dec - 3 Jan

Serbia Interagency Operational Update 14-20 December 2015

Serbia Interagency Operational Update 7-13 December 2015


Serbia Interagency Operational Update 1-7 December 2015

Serbia Interagency Operational Update 24-30 November 2015

Serbia, Inter-Agency Operational Update, 27Oct-2Nov



Serbia, Inter-Agency Operational Uptade, 13-19 Oct



 Serbia, Inter-Agency

Operational Uptade, 29   Sept - 12 Oct                                                        

Serbia, Inter-Agency Operational

Update, 15-21 September 2015


UNICEF Manual for parents -

How parents can help children

to adapt to the crisis? - Arabian


UNICEF Manual on

Breastfeeding - English


Serbia, Inter-Agency Operational

Update,08-14 September 2015



UNICEF leaflet on

Landmines - English/Arabian




Serbia, Inter-Agency Operational

Update, 01-07 September 2015