The Belgrade Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) presented its annual report Right to Asylum in the Republic of Serbia 2022 at a press conference in the Belgrade Media Centre on 28 February. The report was presented by UNHCR Representative in Serbia Soufiane Adjali, BCHR Executive Director Sonja Tošković, BCHR Asylum and Migration Programme Coordinator Anja Stefanović, Report Editor Ana Trifunović and BCHR Asylum and Migration Programme Senior Integration Adviser Jelena Ilić.
According to the data of the Serbian Commissariat for Refugees and Migration, over 119,000 refugees and asylum seekers stayed in the Serbian asylum and reception centres in 2022, or twice as many as in 2021, said the Report Editor, Ana Trifunović.
Serbia issued 1,115 rulings granting temporary protection mostly to Ukrainian nationals, in accordance with the temporary protection mechanism activated after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said Trifunović.
“The arrival of Ukrainian nationals in Serbia was facilitated by the visa-free regime and they applied for temporary protection on arrival. In BCHR’s experience, the application of the temporary protection mechanism was relatively smooth. The people who fled Ukraine mostly stayed in private lodgings and many of them have friends and relatives, even spouses, here. The Serbian Government designated the Vranje Asylum Centre for the accommodation of exclusively Ukrainian refugees,” Asylum and Migration Programme Coordinator Anja Stefanović said, adding that most Ukrainian refugees wanted to return to their country as soon as circumstances permitted.
Jelena Ilić, a Senior Integration Adviser with BCHR’s Asylum and Migration Programme, said that 230 refugees in 2022 asked BCHR to help them pursue their education or access the labour market in Serbia.
She said that BCHR in 2022 represented 94 Ukrainian clients, as well as clients from Burundi, Iran and Libya, in procedures for accessing their economic and social rights.
“Only 23% of the foreigners between 20 and 56 years of age who asked us to help them access their right to work or education spoke Serbian. Four BCHR’s clients have enrolled in Serbian colleges since 2021,” said Ilić.
The report is available in Serbian and English.