Today, the Republic of Serbia remains a country of transit. Currently there are around 5,000 refugees and migrants in the territory of Serbia – some live in centres across the country while others are sleeping rough.
We provide medical and psychological assistance to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in the northern border areas of Serbia. As people attempt to cross the borders, many sustain injuries from beatings by batons and sticks, as well as irritations from tear gas and pepper spray. We assist people stranded in appalling conditions and carry out medical consultations for violence-related trauma.
Our activities in 2020 in the Balkans
Data and information from the International Activity Report 2020; staff and expenditure figures, and description and data on activities covers both Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
From January to March, MSF ran a clinic in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, offering general healthcare, mental health services and social support for vulnerable people. We also provided general and mental healthcare to migrants arriving in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In both locations, our teams offered care to victims of physical violence reportedly perpetrated by Croatian and Hungarian border guards and authorities. Also, we provided assistance to people whose health had been affected by poor living conditions, significant gaps in medical assistance and a lack of food, shelter, clean clothes and hygiene facilities.
In the first months of the year, the COVID-19 pandemic led to extensive lockdowns in the region, which had an impact on our activities and the people we were assisting. With temperatures dropping and the number of COVID-19 cases increasing, migrants living outside the official accommodation system were transferred to camps, where they were forced to stay.
In December, we returned to the region to deliver care through mobile clinics to people stranded close to the border areas and to victims of violence.