Statement on the Occasion of the World Refugee Day
In the past year, i.e. from June 2015 to June 15, 2016 there were 653,363 migrants and refugees registered in Serbia. Among them there was a significant number of mostly unaccompanied minors. The largest number of migrants and refugees originate from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Although the majority of them had been issued certificates of intent to seek asylum, for almost all of them Serbia was a transit country. Their intention was to seek international protection in the wealthier northern and western European countries.
At the same time, during the last year only in a short period there was a hope and a consensus among European, regional and national actors, and within societies, that it was necessary to empathise, without exception, with all those coming from countries with wars or with the systematic violation of basic human rights and human dignity. However, soon the focus shifted from the help to migrants and refugees, and the establishment of a safe route and secure asylum procedures, to the regulation of the “refugee crisis”, border protection and control of movement of people, while the individual right to asylum gradually narrowed to people from certain countries (Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq) and conflicting areas within these countries. Ultimately, with the agreement of interior ministers on the Balkan route and the agreement of the European Union and Turkey, the tolerant and controlled transit of migrants and refugees was stopped.
Therefore, the people in need of adequate international protection, continued to try to reach the desired destination, and often remained in countries along the Balkan route, in a situation where their security was greatly compromised, because they were forced to “go underground” and use services of proven smuggling chains.
In the previous quarter, Serbia was monthly visited by around 1,000 people, mostly from Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan. On their way, they passed through and shortly stayed in Presevo, Belgrade and Subotica, i.e. within the border zone with Hungary. There is still a clear need to help them, and our moral responsibility and humanity oblige us to provide the necessary assistance.
With this letter we wish to point to the need for the establishment of a legal and secure transit, as well as fair and efficient asylum procedures for all persons who need it, regardless of ethnic origin, nationality and civil status. At the same time, we jointly continue our humanitarian activities in Presevo and Subotica, in line with our current capabilities and all available resources, as well as the activities aimed at improving the existing system of asylum and migration management in the Republic of Serbia.