Keywords: Refugees and IDPs

Last updated 21 November 2016

MSF teams have been present at both entry and exit points in Serbia since late 2014, offering medical services and mental health support, and distributing non-food items (NFIs) to people transiting through Serbia, onwards towards the Croatian and Hungarian borders.

Despite the EU-Turkey deal and the official closure of several borders in the Balkans, the routes crossing into Europe are still active and thousands of people are, presently, stranded in Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Bulgaria trying to reach the EU. At the hands of smuggling networks or stuck in overcrowded facilities and transit areas, they are often affected by policies which are based more on security and deterrence agendas rather than promotion of international protection.

Almost 5,000 people, mainly from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq are currently in Serbia, with an estimated influx of 200 new arrivals per day from the Bulgarian FYROM routes. Asylum and reception capacities in the country are overwhelmed and offer poor hygiene and sanitation conditions.

Since January 2016, MSF has been running a fully equipped mobile clinic close to the main train station in Belgrade. The mobile clinic provides primary healthcare, mainly medical and mental health support for those in need. In Subotica, at the Serbian–Hungarian border, MSF teams have conducted 6,485 medical consultations since April 2016 and provided blankets and hygiene kits.

Activities  2015 International Activity Report

In 2015, MSF deployed mobile teams in Serbia, so they could assist people as they moved across the country. At the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, MSF worked in Miratovac and Preševo, where up to 4,000 people waited to be registered without shelter in poor weather conditions. MSF set up a clinic and provided basic and mental healthcare near the registration centre as well as at a transit camp near the border. Teams distributed relief items such as washing kits, food, tents, blankets and raincoats, while medical staff treated people suffering from common colds, respiratory tract infections and hypothermia. MSF also supported rubbish collection, set up toilets and offered transportation to disabled people and vulnerable families. In November, a team rehabilitated a 1.5-kilometre road, enabling thousands of people to proceed in greater safety, and set up toilets and six heated tents providing shelter for up to 270 people. Between June and December, the team completed 9,184 medical consultations.

In Belgrade, care was provided to refugees in two parks close to the train and bus stations. The team carried out 3,950 medical consultations between April and September.

Some nights, up to 3,000 people waited in line to be registered or they were stranded at the border with Croatia and had to sleep outside. Mobile clinics assisted people at the crossing points, for example at Sid, where teams inside the transit centre offered consultations as they waited for the train. MSF also set up eight large heated tents providing shelter for more than 2,000 people at the new transit points designated by the authorities. Between mid-September and early December, over 15,200 medical consultations were carried out.

For more on refugees and migrants arriving in Europe, see Bulgaria, Italy, Greece and our page on Mediterranean migration.

Year MSF first worked in the country: 1991.

Activity Reports

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