The number of refugees and migrants in Serbia continued to rise in the first month of 2017, with UNHCR estimate is that around 7,900 refugees and migrants weeere in the country at the end of January. One of the reasons for this can be found in the recent change in admission policy of the Hungarian authorities, reducing the number of persons who are allowed to seek asylum in Hungary at one of the two transit zones, near Horgos and Kelebija border crossings. In the previous period, twenty persons per day could legally cross the border with Hungary in the two transit zones, whereas since mid-January this number was reduced to ten per day.

Of estimated number of refugees and migrants in Serbia in January, over eighty percent have settled into one of five asylum centres and ten reception centres across the country, while others have stayed in places of informal gatherings in Belgrade and near the border with Hungary. Due to the large number of migrants in abandoned warehouses near the main bus station in Belgrade, the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration opened the new temporary shelter in the premises of old military facility in Obrenovac. The Commissariat has organized bus transportation for all migrants willing to be accommodated in Obrenovac; the capacity of the Obrenovac centre was soon full and the Commissariat started the expansion of capacities. As stated by the representatives of the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration, around one thousand migrants across the country are still homeless.[1]

Despite the increase of the number of refugees and migrants in Serbia, January saw the reduction in the number of persons who sought asylum. Compared with December 2016, when 1,117 persons expressed their intention to seek asylum in Serbia, only 584 persons expressed such intention in January 2017. On the other hand, the nationality structure remained similar to previous months, whereas most asylum seekers came from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

In January 2017, the Asylum Office registered 16 asylum seekers, 18 asylum applications were submitted by persons who had previously expressed the intention to seek asylum, and 16 interviews were conducted. When it comes to asylum procedure decisions, there were no positive decisions made in January. The Asylum Office however made two decisions rejecting the asylum applications and one asylum procedure was terminated.

Photo: Bogdan Krasić

[1] Available on Serbian language on: