Recently, the Serbian Refugee Council published the following statement on refugee protection in Serbia:
Public Statement by Serbian Refugee Council – World Refugee Day
On the occasion of June 20th, the World Refugee Day, the Serbian Refugee Council wishes to reiterate the pressing need for establishing a fully operational system of refugee protection in Serbia.
The adoption of the Law on Asylum, which Serbia still does not have, is one of the preconditions of our country’s accession to the European Union. The passing of this law is also required by Article 57 of the Serbian Constitution, which proclaims the obligation of the state to provide adequate protection to all refugees notwithstanding their country of origin.
A modern, comprehensive Law on asylum should prescribe the mechanism for determining and revoking refugee status, its criteria and procedure, as well as ensure the full protection of human rights for individuals who are entitled to shelter and asylum in Serbia “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, gender, language, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political beliefs”.
Establishing a comprehensive system of refugee protection also entails a review and update of the 2002 National Strategy for resolving problems of refugees and internally displaced, by way of evaluating the success of programmes so far conducted in this field.
Moreover, SRC believes that the legal framework should be supported by a Law on Social Housing, which would, inter alia, clearly regulate the ways and conditions for housing provisions for refugees from former Yugoslav countries, primarily those who have decided to integrate in Serbia.
Regional instruments such as the Sarajevo Declaration should be put into action without further delay, so that the expressed political will of statesmen in the region could actually contribute to the well being of tens of thousands of refugees still awaiting a just and sustainable solution to their current status.
Experience has shown that such a wide-ranging and complex work requires the collaboration of all stakeholders, from government and state institutions, to social and health services, as well as non-governmental organisations, to the people immediately affected by displacement and forced migration. The voice of refugees and displaced persons must be taken into account while formulating government policies that directly affect their lives.
Therefore the Serbian Refugee Council would like to appeal to decision makers to include the representatives of the third sector in the formulation of these important documents – to involve NGOs, refugee and IDP associations as well as other organisations that have much to say and can contribute to achieving the ultimate results of those policies in an easier, quicker and more successful manner.
Serbian Refugee Council is an alliance of six local refugee and IDP assisting NGOs (Group 484, Hi Neighbour, International Aid Network IAN, Novi Sad Humanitarian Centre NSHC, Serbian Democratic Forum SDF – Belgrade, Centre for Civil Society Development PROTECTA) established with the view of enhancing their role and influence in the process of finding durable and sustainable solutions for refugees and internally displaced persons in Serbia and the Western Balkans, through joint advocacy and lobbying on decision-making and public policy level.
SRC is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation with a vision to create a fairer world for refugees, displaced persons and other forced migrants, as well as to improve tolerance, equality and prosperity in the society.