In go to to Serbia, OSCE Parliamentary Meeting delegation welcomes progress in migration administration, lodging for unaccompanied minors – Serbia
BELGRADE, June 12, 2018 – Improvements in the accommodation of migrants and refugees in Serbia were welcomed by a delegation led by Nahima Lanjri (MP, Belgium) from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. Parliamentarians point out that other OSCE countries can learn from these positive developments. However, they pointed out that Serbia’s capacities need to be expanded and adapted to fully meet the needs of unaccompanied minors.
Lanjri and several other members of the OSCE PA’s Ad Hoc Migration Committee concluded their visit today after meeting with representatives from the Serbian government, the international community, civil society, and migrants and refugees to review current developments in the field To evaluate migration, special attention is paid to unaccompanied and unaccompanied children. The delegation included Ad Hoc Vice-Chair Pascal Allizard (MP, France) and members Kyriakos Hadjiyianni (MP, Cyprus), Stefana Miladinovic (MP, Serbia) and George Varemenos (MP, Greece).
During the three-day visit, developments in improving the legal framework and ongoing challenges in implementation were discussed.
“Serbia’s efforts to support migrants – and especially refugees and migrant children – have not gone unnoticed. It is commendable that almost 90 percent of migrant children in Serbia go to primary school regardless of their legal status. Serbia’s new Asylum and Temporary Protection Act is also an important step towards full compliance with international law with a number of important provisions related to unaccompanied minors, such as the guardianship system and the consideration of the best interests of the child, ”Lanjri said.
However, she added that a more objective and systematic approach to age assessment is needed to ensure that minors are properly housed and protected from possible ill-treatment.
Delegation members noted that unaccompanied minors are a particularly vulnerable category of exploitation and sexual abuse by smugglers and that this threat requires further attention.
Miladinovic, who also serves as head of the Serbian delegation to the OSCE PA, noted that Serbia, as a country with a high number of migrants in transit, has focused on setting up reception facilities for short stays and that it is now ensuring adequate reception Must be capacity even for longer stays. First steps in this direction have already been taken, she stressed, highlighting the positive practice of issuing documents to children born in Serbia.
“Our local communities in Serbia have largely welcomed refugees and migrants, and we have also enjoyed good cooperation between government agencies, international organizations and NGOs,” said Miladinovic. This good cooperation was also highlighted by the representatives of international organizations and civil society with whom the delegation met.
On Monday, members of the Migration Committee met with a variety of officials dealing with migration and asylum policy, including Vladimir Cucic, Commissioner for Refugees and Migration, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs, the Asylum Service of the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Education.
There were also a number of visits to facilities for unaccompanied minors in Belgrade, including the Krnjaca Asylum Center, two specialized facilities for unaccompanied minors, one managed by the Jesuit Refugee Service and the other a new state facility that opened in May , as well as the 24/7 aid center for refugee aid Miksaliste.
Today the delegation was received by the Head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia, Ambassador Andrea Orizio, who together with his colleagues gave a comprehensive overview of the migration-related activities of the field operation in Serbia. This included initiatives such as supporting the enrollment of migrant children in local schools through seminars on intercultural communication for teachers and learning English, as well as projects to promote regional cooperation in combating smuggling and human trafficking.
Delegation members also had the opportunity to learn more about the initiatives of international organizations and non-governmental organizations working with migrant children, to discuss their concerns and to identify areas for improvement. During a roundtable meeting with representatives of international organizations and NGOs today, parliamentarians learned more about their initiatives and examples of positive practices with regard to refugee and migrant children. One such practice is the use of cultural mediators who facilitate communication between migrants and authorities.
The next meeting of the ad hoc committee on migration will take place on July 7, 2018 in Berlin on the sidelines of the annual OSCE PA meeting. A debate on migrant children will also take place during the Annual Session when the Assembly adopts the draft resolution proposed by Chair Lanjri on behalf of the Committee, entitled “Minors on the Move: The Role of the OSCE and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Building and Effective Frameworks for Protection.”
Photos from this week’s visit to Serbia are available for public use on Flickr.
For more information on the work of the OSCE PA in the area of migration, please click here.
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