Our APC mobile office team of lawyer, psychologist and social worker and interpreters, is running APC camper - mobile office, helping young refugees & migrants across South and North border areas in Serbia, the last migration buffer zone at the dangerous and violent EU - Serbia external borders.
We provided children/youth with valid information, holistic legal, psychological, social and humanitarian aid and a safe space, they otherwise wouldn't have in forests, along the borders, in the large transit centers, remote areas, in suburbs of cities, abandoned buildings & makeshift shelters in Northern and Southern Serbia, all in order to protect & empower children, saving them from danger and supporting their well being.
We were moving to remoted areas in Southern Serbia (Preševo, Vranje, Bujanovac, Dimitrovgrad, Pirot, etc.) and Vojvodina Northern part of Serbia (Subotica, Prozivka, Backi Vinogradi, Zadruga, Makova sedmica, Suncani breg, Horgoš, Novi Sad, Kikinda, Sombor, Šikara, Kelebija, Principovac, Adasevci, Šid, etc.), from our offices in Presevo, Belgrade and Subotica, that served us as a starting points and bases for our field operations. Our field trips are usually lasting for whole day long, and APC mobile camper team has been working in the field during the whole day in order to serve as many refugee children and youth as possible while being present at one location per time in spite of weather conditions.
After a few year period of relative constant migration flow, the numbers of refugee newcomers, coming from the south (using route across Turkey, Greece, N. Macedonia) are raising high in Serbia again. Many are now coming from Syria, among them a lot of women and children. Every fourth refugee reaching Serbias’ Northern and Western borders is Syrian.
In that circumstances, more and more refugee children/youth are getting stuck across north and south of Serbia, the last migration buffer along EU borders, often being daily pushed illegally back to Serbia in dozens from its neighboring countries - Croatia, Hungary, Romania or Bosnia. Additionally, Serbia is facing with significant and chronic increase of new coming refugee children and unaccompanied minors since mid of 2019 and coming mostly from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria. The new coming children in 2020 are reaching Serbia in faster manner then before, in approximately a week long period from Turkey and Greece via Macedonia, Kosovo or Montenegro to Serbia.
Once refugee children and youth enter Serbia they lack proper information and face no legal/psycho protection, lacking shelter, food, hygiene, health and other care. Refugee children are feeling afraid and disoriented, becoming easy pray of criminals and smugglers or corrupted individuals and even corrupted camps’ representatives, who are offering them support and various services to complement inefficient state system of reception and support. Unaccompanied minors are often perceived and treated as adults by institutions and the system itself.
Serbia’s northern neighborghs – Hungary, Croatia and Romania, are stoping refugees, denying them access to asylum and returining them illegally back to Serbia. Often using force, beating children and youth, treating them in inhuman and degrading manner.
Facing increasing challenges to keep moving toward Western Europe, refugees are becoming stuck in Serbia in uncertain and in irregular stay, remaining out of the system and out of the notice of responsible institutions. Serbian authorities and institutions are trying to ignore there presence and not to pay special attention to same problems of refugees, hoping that they would leave country as soon as possible.
With our APC mobile camper office we are moving swiftly and efficiently to any place we are aware of children in danger, along remoted border areas, camps or urban areas across Northern and Southern Serbia. Up to now in the reporting period, we provided 52 refugee children/youth with valid legal and other information on system functioning, on asylum procedures, on risks of traffickers, smugglers, criminals, on ways of recognizing threats, as well as on manners of protection and on manners of reporting existing risks, providing them our contacts and contacts of other responsible institutions.
Moreover, we are initiating guardian procedures and social protection procedures, while our holistic legal, psychological, social and humanitarian aid is available to minors they otherwise wouldn't have in forests, along the borders, in the large transit centers, remote areas, in suburbs of cities, abandoned buildings & makeshift shelters, etc.
In that manner we protect & empower children, saving them from danger and securing them a safe space for counseling, information sharing, psychological and social support. They are recognizing our mobile APC camper team as their support and friends they can trust, they can rely on and seek for protection.Through relation of trust and by word of mouth, our APC camper lawyer, psychologist, social worker and interpreters are able to transmit information and be sure that children understood it and received it with trust.
On course of the reporting period, we ensured more of 15 vulnerable refugee children/youth access to asylum and to asylum guaranteed rights, to avoid irregular stay in local communities/open areas across Serbia,
Thanks to the project support, we provided legal counselling to 55 minor migrants across Serbia, of which 30 were unaccompanied minors. Our lawyers helped minors to learn about their rights, and secured them to get accommodation in asylum camps and appropriate institutional accommodation where they were provided access to food, clothes, humanitarian and basic health aid.
During our field visits, we talked with young refugees about their experiences, their long and dangerous road, their hopes and dreams and current problems they are facing in reception, asylum centers and in other areas in Serbia. Unaccompanied migrant children were among the most vulnerable group of migrants and they are in need of special care appropriate to their age, we are now able to provide with our APC mobile refugee office.
According to our estimates, there are hundreds of unaccompanied minors in Serbia at the moment. Same unaccompanied minors are, if accommodated, often accommodated in reception centers together with adults, even though that was not a place for them. They could be exposed to different dangers, such as abuse, violence, robbing and smuggling in same camps.
In order to minimize the consequences of these circumstances, our team provided psychological support to 35 unaccompanied children in camps, helping them to overcome traumas they experienced on the road and difficult living conditions and other challenges in the camps.
Moreover, our lawyer and social worker were intervening before local social welfare institutions and camps managements, to provide safe space and accommodation for children, separated from the adults and possible perpetrators.
Moreover, we are reporting any signs of same danger for unaccompanied minors to police, and social services, in order to prevent any risk and to act in the fastest possible manner. Often that proves crucial having in mind that camp managements, social and other system services are slow, inactive and usually without real information nor presence among refugee groups within camps.
Thanks to our donors, APC psychosocial team organized 2 creative and 5 integration workshops where more than 34 children had the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings and get the necessary emotional, psychological and empowering support and understanding, which was crucial for them in their early development phase and in process of inclusion/functioning in local community and in the school system.
APC mobile office team was sharing humanitarian aid to 61 children and youth in need of blankets, clothes, shoes, food and hygiene across country. APC mobile team was transporting humanitarian aid with camper vehicle and sharing it on course of its regular field, legal, psychosocial and other project activities.