Types of accommodation

Serbia

Author

Belgrade Centre for Human Rights

Persons entering the asylum procedure in Serbia are usually accommodated at one of the 5 asylum centres spread out across the country, but those asylum seekers who can afford to stay at a private residence may do so, should they so desire. These “asylum centres” should not be confused with the temporary reception centres that had been set up by the Government throughout 2015 in response to the mass influx of refugees and migrants transiting through Serbia, seeing as how these are not foreseen for the housing of persons seeking asylum in Serbia.

 

Asylum centres

There were 5 active asylum centres in Serbia in 2016:

Asylum centre

Capacity

Banja Koviljača

150

Bogovađa

280

Tutin

150

Sjenica

200

Krnjača

350

Total

1,130

Only the asylum centre in Banja Koviljača is formally speaking a permanent centre; the other centres are ‘temporary’ locations for the housing of asylum seekers. The overall reception capacity at the asylum centres was adequate for 1,060 persons in February 2016,1 and has expanded to 1,130 places at the end of 2016. However, the capacity of asylum centres is estimated only by the number of available beds, rather than their overall facilities, including toilets, bathrooms and kitchens. All of the enumerated asylum centres are overcrowded, with a lack of privacy and poor hygienic conditions. 

Asylum centres are open and accommodated asylum seekers have the right to leave the centre, although the obligation remains to be present for the daily rollcall every evening in order for the centre’s authorities to ascertain that the person in question is still present. However, seeing as how asylum seekers are required to surrender all personal identity documents to the police at the time of the hearing at the latest,2 a potential issue remains in that, bearing in mind that the Asylum Office usually does not issue identity cards for asylum seekers in a timely fashion, they may have trouble with the authorities should they be found outside of the asylum centre without any documents. The same may befall those staying at private accommodation.     

 

Temporary reception centres

Concerning the temporary reception centres, a number of these were opened by the Government of Serbia in the second half of 2015 in order to provide emergency reception conditions for persons who were entering Serbia in an irregular manner and are transiting towards their preferred destination countries in the European Union. The first centre was set up in early summer 2015 in Preševo, labelled a ‘one-stop centre’, where refugees and migrants could be registered and provided humanitarian assistance upon entering Serbia from FYROM. Additional centres – where humanitarian assistance and limited accommodation is offered – were at various times set up in Miratovac, Bujanovac, Kanjiža, Subotica, Sombor, Šid, Adaševci, Principovac, Bosilegrad, Dimitrovgrad and Pirot. These are all situated in border areas towards FYROM, Hungary and Croatia, where the flow of refugees and migrants transiting through Serbia was most intense. However, they were not foreseen for the accommodation of persons seeking asylum in Serbia.

The respective capacity of the temporary reception centres is as follows:

Temporary reception centre

Border location

Capacity

Preševo

FYROM

1,500

Miratovac

FYROM

300

Bujanovac

FYROM

250

Sombor

Croatia

120

Principovac

Croatia

300

Šid

Croatia

560

Adaševci

Croatia

250

Kanjiža

Hungary

55

Dimitrovgrad

Bulgaria

66

Bosilegrad

Bulgaria

50

Pirot

Bulgaria

232

Total

 

3,683

By the end of 2016, the centres in Miratovac and Kanjiža were closed because of changes in the Western Balkan route, and the authorities plan to open new ones in Kikinda, Negotin and Zaječar in order to accommodate the increasing number of arrivals coming from Bulgaria. According to the Commissariat for Refugees and Migrations, the reception centres currently in function have the capacity to accommodate up to 4,000 persons.

In January 2017, there were 12 temporary reception facilities: Preševo, Bujanovac, Pirot, Dimitrovgrad, Bosilegrad, Divljana, Principovac, Šid, Adaševci, Obrenovac, Sombor and Subotica.

  • 1. Information received from the Commissariat for Refugees and Migrations on 26 February 2016.
  • 2. Article 24 Asylum Act.

About AIDA

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is a database managed by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), containing information on asylum procedures, reception conditions, detenti