13 – 19 May 2020
➢ On 14 May, Health Minister Zlatibor Loncar annulled the previous order that extended the lockdown for Reception and Asylum Centers in Serbia. (Official Gazette, no. 74/2020) As a result, all refugees and other migrants regained the right to freedom of movement in the country. Asylum office of the Serbian Interior Ministry will resume its operations on 1 June.
➢ In a stark contrast to above decision to relax the lockdown measures in all the camps, on 16 May Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic ordered Serbian Army deployment in municipality Sid with 3 centers: Adasevci, Principovac and Sid city. Apparently, the decision is made following requests from the local municipality to prevent any incidents that occurred before corona epidemics, including petty crime, burglaries and illegal entry into abandoned buildings including farms or weekend houses in the area. The units belonging to the elite 72 Brigade for Special Operations of Serbian army are deployed on the same day, guarding 3 centers and patrolling in the town.
According to the SCRM, the migrants are allowed to leave all of these camps, however their stay outside after the 10PM curfew is not tolerated, and they are forced
to return to the camp. Various representatives of civil society criticized this decision heavily, claiming it is connected with the campaign for general elections in Serbia set for 21 June - especially given that no incidents are reported since lifting lockdown of Sid area camps.
Last week was marked by the swift return to “normality” regarding migrations in Serbia. Nearly 1,500 migrants managed to leave the camps since the end the state of
emergency, despite strong SCRM efforts to slow down the outflow with the partial restriction of freedom of movement with a system of quotas (for instance, in Krnjaca AC only 5 migrants per barrack were allowed to exit the premises). According to Serbian Commissar for refugees and migrations Vladimir Cucic, Serbian ACs and
RCs currently host 7,700 beneficiaries, with an estimation of at least 150 people on the move outside. At the peak of the state of emergency, the camps had over 9.100 accommodated people.
➢ Inflow of refugees and other migrants in the parks of Belgrade Savamala district is notable, with numbers rising from 120 on Wednesday to 270 on Sunday. Consequently, significant number of smugglers are also present in the area, seeking clients and brokering deals about irregular travel to the EU. As a result, there is a significant increase in attempts to cross the borders of Hungary and Romania. Push backs from Hungarian border peaked at 188 over the weekend. At the same time an apparent movement of Kurdish families is noticed towards or over the border with Romania. Read more on how the new border regime could influence people on the
move in this Weekly’s appendix “Protection of borders in times of crisis”.
➢ Around 50 right-wingers, mostly members of the extremist neo-nazi Levijatan movement, gathered outside the Obrenovac RTC on 13 May to protest in support to a
member of the organization who had forcibly driven into the camp the week before and was ordered 30-day detention.
➢ Following the reports condemning the photos of physically marked refuges in Croatia last week, the Guardian published an article about this humiliating practice. However, the Croatian Ministry of Interior denied the accusations published in the UK paper dubbing that these accusations absurd and dangerous since they are
coming during the holy month of Ramadan.
➢ The program of relocation of unaccompanied children from Greek islands to other EU countries is scheduled to continue. Portugal is set to welcome 500 boys and girls
and dozens are ready for the relocation to Belgium. However, authorities have extended the lockdown of Greek refugee camps due to the corona virus pandemic.
➢ According to Alarm Phone, push-backs on the Aegean sea reportedly continued. Since early March 2020, Alarm Phone has received 28 emergency calls from the
Aegean and in most of these cases the distress resulted from attacks on boats carried out in Greek waters by various vigilante groups.