Risks In Serbia

Thousands of migrants are stuck in Serbia due to heavy border restrictions on the Balkan route. Many migrants live in temporary and poor-quality camps close to the Croatian border in a bid to make it into Western Europe but are blocked from doing so. Migrants live in harsh conditions and many are dependent on smugglers who abuse or exploit them.

Migrants in Serbia are eligible to apply for asylum but many do not want to stay in the country due to the low living standards, and hope to cross the Hungarian and Croatian borders into the European Union. Migrants who wish to gain asylum are required to express their intention to apply as soon as they enter Serbia, and go to the designated asylum centres to lodge their application.

Asylum seekers who have been granted legal status are eligible for free healthcare. However, undocumented migrants are only eligible for urgent medical care and are largely reliant on medical services provided by under-resourced NGOs.

In Serbia, the majority of migrants are normally housed in camps while others live outside in precarious conditions, such as in forests and abandoned buildings, with limited access to water and sanitation.

Those who are granted asylum may be eligible for state-funded accommodation. They can apply for financial assistance to cover the costs of temporary accommodation but must attend Serbian language classes in order to qualify for the loan. 

Access to education remains difficult for migrants. Those who have been granted asylum are able to access free primary and secondary education but face obstacles to learning as all classes are taught in Serbian. 

Undocumented migrants who work in order to fund their onward travel are at risk of labour exploitation due to their irregular situation. Asylum applicants have to wait at least nine months before they can receive a work permit, and only a very small number are approved. Asylum seekers who find work are entitled to receive government assistance but only a few people benefit due to the lack of employment opportunities. Language and cultural barriers mean many migrants are unable to fully integrate into the local community.