UN Strengthens its Support to Serbia for Hosting Refugees and Migrants in Winter

Oct 28, 2016

Photo credit: UNCT Serbia / Andjela Grozdanic

Belgrade, 28 October 2016 – Marking UN Week, the UN Country Team and the Government of Serbia convened a special brief on the refugee and migration situation in Serbia.  The Team of UN agencies reaffirmed its commitments to strongly promote and support additional humanitarian, developmental, budgetary, coordination and political support to allow the Government of Serbia to implement its Response Plan as well as the commitments of the recently adopted New York Declaration.

In 2015, the UN Country Team supported the Government of Serbia with activities in coordination, registration, protection, counter-trafficking, anti-smuggling, shelter, sanitary and other infrastructure, non-food and food aid, health for refugees/migrants as well as support to the public services that assist refugees and migrants and the local communities that host them in the amount of around 1 billion RSD (9.1m USD). Similar assistance in 2016 extended to date amounts to 855 million RSD (8.6m USD).

“The UN Country Team in Serbia stands ready to further increase this support to enhance a sustained lawful and protection sensitive management of the refugee and migration situation, and challenges of irregular migration, to help in addressing forthcoming winter needs, including contingency planning in Serbia. The team will also continue advocating for strong support to Serbia by other donors, including those who are able to provide direct budgetary support to the Government, which UN Agencies are not allowed to furnish” said Irena Vojackova Sollorano, UN Resident Coordinator to Serbia.

During the past months, the number of new refugees, migrants and asylum-seekers in Serbia has stabilized at around 6,300, 80% of whom are accommodated in Governmental centres. With the onset of colder weather, UN Agencies and partners have also stepped up their distribution of winter clothes as well as support to the creation of adequate shelter places and conditions for longer–term stay in winter.

“UN Agencies in Serbia welcomed Serbia’s overall humane, lawful and positive management of the refugee and migration situation during 2015 and remain committed to strongly support a continuation thereof during 2016. The transit situation of 2015 has changed to longer-term stay, which obliges us to redouble our efforts in supporting the adaptation of governmental policy and authorities’ approaches. The legal status and services accessible to refugees and migrants as well as our support to public services and local communities that host refugees and migrants must be adjusted to their long-term stay in winter. UN Agencies continue to call on authorities to allow due access to territory and protection for those refugees and migrants who need it and to abstain from unlawful expulsions. We are determined to support the Government to resume comprehensive registration and documentation of all refugees and migrants in Serbia to better understand and address their individual motivations, needs, rights and obligations. We also praise citizens’ overall welcoming and understanding attitude to refugees and migrants“ – said Hans Friedrich Schodder, UNHCR Representative.

As called for in the New York Declaration*, and in line with the global UN Secretary-General’s campaign called 'Together – Respect, Safety and Dignity for All', UN representatives announced the localization of the campaign to help the Government in maintaining public sympathy for the plight of refugees and migrants.

Consolidated efforts in assisting Serbia’s response to the current refugee and migration situation by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN WOMEN), the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as the World Food Programme (WFP) continue to be coordinated by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

About the New York Declaration

*The New York Declaration, adopted on 19 September 2016, expresses the political will of world leaders to save lives, protect rights and share responsibility on a global scale. The Member States have committed to, inter alia: Protect the human rights of all refugees and migrants, regardless of status; ensure that all refugee and migrant children are receiving education within a few months of arrival; prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence; support those countries rescuing, receiving and hosting large numbers of refugees and migrants; strongly condemn xenophobia against refugees and migrants and support a global campaign to counter it; implement a comprehensive refugee response, based on a new framework that sets out the responsibility of Member States, civil society partners and the UN system, whenever there is a large movement of refugees or a protracted refugee situation.



Aleksandra Stamenković, UNCT Communications Expert,

M: 063 302 831 e-mail: aleksandra.stamenkovic@one.un.org.

This press release is also published at:  www.rs.one.un.org

Additional information: www.rs.one.un.orgwww.facebook.com/UNCTSerbiaand @UNCT_Serbia

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