The Asylum Act foresees that care be taken during the asylum procedure of asylum seekers with specific needs, including minors, persons lacking or having limited legal capacity, children separated from their parents or guardians, persons with disabilities, the elderly, pregnant women, single parents with underage children and persons who had been subjected to torture, rape or other forms of grave psychological, physical or sexual violence.1 However, this does not refer to reception conditions, although persons with special needs might receive slightly better accommodation compared to other residents of asylum centres. Very often even these ‘improved’ reception conditions are inadequate for such persons.
Minor asylum seekers are housed together with their parents or legal guardians. Since the end of 2015, unaccompanied minors have been accommodated in institutions in Belgrade, Niš and Subotica.2 These facilities are also used to accommodate nationals of Serbia – primarily underage offenders, and are therefore neither specifically-tailored to the needs of migrants, nor particularly suitable for their housing. Regardless, unaccompanied minor asylum seekers in these facilities are kept separately from other groups, and overall reception conditions are considerably better than otherwise available at asylum centres, although a chronic lack of interpreters for various languages spoken by migrants continues to present a considerable challenge to ensuring their proper development and integration.
Persons with special medical needs may generally be placed in hospitals or other facilities. However, the identification of other groups of extremely vulnerable individuals, including unaccompanied minors, victims of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, sexual and gender-based violence or human trafficking is quite rudimentary and, even when such cases have been identified, the authorities do not adopt a special approach to the needs of these persons.