In early January, temperatures in Belgrade were dropping to as low as 15 degrees Celsius below zero. According to the estimates received from the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration, at the beginning of the month about 2,000 people were sleeping rough in Belgrade, at parking lots and in abandoned warehouses (barracks) near the Belgrade Bus Station.
The previously announced relocation of refugees/migrants sleeping rough in the Belgrade city centre began in the middle of the month, after adapting a former military facility in Obrenovac for that purpose. About 500 refugees/migrants from the barracks behind the Belgrade Bus Station were relocated to Obrenovac, out of which about 200 UASC. In addition, in the middle of the month, MSF erected 5 tents with beds and heating for temporary overnight stay for potential UASC as well as refugees and migrants with health issues, used only as transit accommodation before transfer to the official facilities. Between 30 and 40 people, mostly UASC, sleep in the tents every night and thus are protected from cold and other health and safety risks to which they were exposed in the barracks. Given that after the relocation of refugees/migrants in January about 1,200 people (according to the estimates of the Commissariat and UNHCR) continued sleeping rough, in parks and abandoned barracks and warehouses, with scarce accommodation capacity still available in other asylum and reception centres, it is clear that the accommodation capacity is still insufficient to satisfy all the needs identified in the field. Moreover, in January, Hungary reduced the number of daily admissions to territory and asylum procedures from 20 to a total of 10 per working day (weekends excluded). This new development, along with the enhanced border controls and intensified violent pushbacks of refugees/migrants from Hungary and Croatia, will only increase the number of persons stranded in Serbia for a long time and in need of humanitarian assistance and protection.
The situation in Belgrade is still alarming. The refugees/migrants in Belgrade still receive only one meal a day. The distribution of winter clothes and shoes was intensified in the second half of the month, which is an improvement compared to the previous period, but it is still insufficient to satisfy the needs of all those who are sleeping rough, still including a significant number of UASC.
Praxis continued its field work in January and provided a total of 382 newly arrived refugees/migrants (259 adults and 123 children) in Belgrade with relevant information, which is a smaller number of new arrivals than in the previous period as a result of extremely harsh weather conditions.
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