Information for asylum seekers and access to NGOs and UNHCR


Country Report: Information for asylum seekers and access to NGOs and UNHCR Last updated: 15/05/23


Nikola Kovačević

A foreigner who has expressed their intention to seek asylum in Serbia, as well as a person who lodged their asylum application shall have the right to be informed about their rights and obligations throughout the asylum procedure.[1]

The provision of relevant information, as well as something which can be considered as legal orientation is a primary task of the State and relevant police stations and police departments in which foreigners who might be in need of international protection should be the first line of information provision. Still, the reality has shown that information for refugees and migrants is provided by an entire set of state and non-state actors.

The main entry points to Serbia are from North Macedonia on the south and Bulgaria on the east. For that reason, and especially with regards to people coming from North Macedonia, the first place where persons in need of international protection can receive information is the RC in Preševo. However, and taking in consideration the fact that Serbia is facilitating pushback operations, it would be highly unlikely that refugees and asylum seekers would consider border police departments as places where they could obtain information on the asylum procedure in Serbia.

Another reality in practice is that the most of the foreigners go directly to reception facilities in Belgrade or in border areas with EU countries. Thus, in most of the instances they tend to avoid initial reception facilities, but also police departments in which they could be registered, but also provided with adequate legal information.

Thus, most of the information is provided in reception facilities in Belgrade, which does not exclude that many CSOs and international organizations are distributing leaflets in all other reception facilities, but also on the field. Basically, UNHCR, IOM and probably more than 10 CSOs have designed their own leaflets and posters which are multilingual, adapted to special needs of children or other vulnerable categories and others.

However, the fact that only 320 out of around 120,00 foreigners who were noticed in Serbia decided to apply for asylum indicates a problem of the quality of information provision and legal orientation. Basically, all info sessions came down to the distribution to technical information and leaflets.

Police departments around Serbia tasked with issuing the registration certificates have started to provide information through state developed leaflets. According to the information provided by the members of the Asylum Office, these leaflets were distributed to all police departments in January 2023. The time will tell to which extent these leaflets will increase the number of people who wish to apply for asylum

As for persons in need of international protection who are detained by police forces on the grounds of their irregular stay in border areas, if not pushed back, the question that remains open is to which extent are they provided with access to rights of persons deprived of their liberty. CSOs, as well as UNHCR do not have access to these people, nor these people in practice are provided with the information on their possibility to apply for asylum. This conclusion is draw from the relevant legal framework and the Rulebook on Police Powers which governs the provision on information of persons deprived of their liberty does not explicitly prescribes the responsibility of acting police officers to inform detained foreign nationals on their right to apply for asylum.[2]




[1] Article 56(1) Asylum Act.

[2] Rulebook on Police Powers, Official Gazette no. 41/2019 i 93/2022, available in Serbian at:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection