UNHCR and IOM present new plan to respond to the refugee and migrant situation in Serbia

Photo: UNCT Serbia / Andjela Grozdanic

Belgrade, 23 January 2016 – The UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) today presented a new strategy and appeal to help respond to the situation of refugees and migrants in Serbia in 2017.

The strategy and appeal for Serbia are part of a bigger Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan for Europe (RMRP) covering Turkey, Southern Europe, Western Balkans, and other parts of Europe presented to potential donors in Geneva on 19 January. It aims at complementing and reinforcing the Governments’ efforts to ensure safe access to asylum and the protection of refugees and migrants. It also aims to support long-term solutions and orderly and dignified migration management. Strengthened partnerships and coordination will also be given priority in 2017.

Introducing the RMRP, Lidija Marković, Head of IOM Serbia said “Over the past two years, Europe’s response to the arrival of over 1.3 million refugees and migrants on its soil has been faced with many challenges, including how to protect refugees and migrants. This Plan is an operational tool, which will play a key role to ensure efficient and well-coordinated assistance throughout 2017. In Serbia, we have seen a change: from transit to a more stable situation which requires systemic responses as outlined in this Plan.”

“We are especially concerned about the particular vulnerabilities and needs of unaccompanied and separated children, women and girls. This Plan, if adequately funded, would greatly assist in addressing them.” added Francesca Bonelli, Senior Field Coordinator of UNHCR Serbia.

Nenad Ivaniševć, State Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs noted “I am proud of the response of the citizens and the Government of Serbia to numerous challenges posed by the migrant crisis over the past two years. The timely reaction to the crisis is an example of the excellent response that the authorities and the NGO sector together are able to ensure, no matter how difficult the situation.“

On behalf of the numerous national and international NGOs, Marina Cremonese, Representative of DRC Serbia stated “We particularly welcome the focus of the Response Plan on longer-term planning and solutions, thus strengthening facilities, services and capacities to address the current and future migration challenges. The support to local communities is essential, creating further opportunities for social cohesion. It is important to build on the momentum generated by the current situation to secure resources needed for further enhancing the migration management in the country and in Europe.”

The Serbia chapter of the RMRP builds on the experiences and achievements of 2015 and 2016. In line with the planning figures and sectors of the Response Plan of the Government of Serbia, its biggest sectors are Shelter and NFIs, Support to Local Communities and Protection; the Plan also addresses Health and Nutrition, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Education and Livelihoods. The RRMRP Serbia was developed in close cooperation with the authorities, UN agencies, national and international non-governmental organisations.

While some aid will continue to be required to address the immediate needs of new arrivals, the activities under RMRP will primarily focus on the longer-term staying population and their needs for shelter, food, health, education and solutions. Protection concerns will continue to be addressed including access to territory and asylum processes, registration, documents, risk of family separation, sexual and gender-based violence, exploitation and trafficking.

With this plan 8 UN agencies and 16 on-governmental organisations seek to assist Serbia with activities at the value of over 39 million US dollars. Under the preceding RMRPs of 2015-2016 Serbia had received international support to the refugee and migration situation at the value of USD 13,106,618

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For further information please contact:

UNHCR Serbia, Mirjana Milenkovski, Cell: 063 275 154, Email:ivanovim@unhcr.org

IOM Serbia: Monika Petrovic, Tel: 011 3282 075, Email:mpetrovic@iom.int