6 November 2015

Between 24 and 30 October, media reports and accounts by humanitarian organizations active in Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia state that many refugees have not been adequately registered, due to insufficient registration capacities. Additional improvements to temporary centres were urgently requested to ensure sufficient heating and adequate sanitation facilities.

In Macedonia, at the Reception Center “Vinojug” in Gevgelija, due to the continuing arrivals not all refugees registered their intention to seek asylum. Though refugees stay only for few hours, the centre has insufficient electricity to heat the facilities and ensure adequate conditions in winter. On 30 October, the Mayor of Gevgelija announced that heating capacities, potable water supply and garbage collection at the Vinojug centre will be improved.  

In Serbia, at the registration centre of Presevo, further improvements are needed in the registration procedures, especially in the age determination of children and their protection needs. Moreover, according to MSF, Presevo has insufficient sanitary facilities, with only twelve toilets and limited heating capabilities. In the past week, three shelter areas were established outside the registration centre. This is in addition to places at the new registration centre in Bujanovac, made available since 17 October, in case Presevo capacities would be insufficient to shelter refugees waiting to be registered.

Furthermore, between 19 and 22 October, it was reported that there was an urgent need to create emergency shelters at the Bapska/Berkasovo border crossing with Croatia, where resources and supplies for refugees are insufficient.

At the Opatovac centre, between 19 and 22 October, the identification and assistance of people with specific needs, especially unaccompanied and separated children, became more challenging and required more staff and better coordination due to the large number of arrivals. In addition, tents have proven to be inadequate shelter for winter conditions. Also, sanitation services were insufficient due to the large number of people in need. The centre at Opatovac will be replaced by a transit registration centre in Slavonski Brod, expected to open the 3rd November. The new centre could accommodate 10,000 people and will be better equipped for the winter.

On 29 October, the European Commission issued a follow up to the 25 October mini-summit on the Western Balkan route. So far, only some of the countries concerned have made commitments, which will only provide 12,000 reception places out of the 50,000 targeted for the end of the year. For instance, Serbia committed 3,000 places and Croatia 2,000. In Macedonia no measures have been presented yet, though the government said that only 2,000 refugees could be accommodated for a lengthy period.

See more detailed information in our Western Balkan News Brief 24-30 October 2015


This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 6 November 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.