Despite the de-facto closure of the Balkan route in early March 2016, a constant stream of refugees and migrants continues to arrive in the Republic of Serbia – mainly from Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina – with strong support from cross-border smuggling and trafficking networks.
Throughout 2018, the monthly number of stranded refugees and migrants in Serbia fluctuated around 4,000.
However, UNICEF and partners estimate that in 2019 around 18,000 people in need will transit through Serbia – one in three being a child.
Refugee and migrant children – some travelling with their families, some alone – risk everything, even their own lives, in search of a better life.
When entering the country, women and children on the move are physically exhausted, psychologically traumatized, and many need medical and protection assistance.
Refugee and migrant children, and women, are accommodated in collective centres that provide basic needs; however, they have limited access to safe places to rest and thrive, receiving only irregular specialized and community-based psychosocial support.
Referral to specialized services, including for sexual violence, is limited, and children face several linguistic, cultural and social barriers to access them.
The needs of adolescent girls and boys have also largely been unmet up to now.
UNICEF and partners estimate that in 2019 around 18,000 people in need will transit through Serbia – one in three being a child.
There are concerns in relation to unaccompanied and separated children (UASC), who require best-interest assessment and determination, and specific support throughout the case management process.
Most children attend primary school; however, a smaller number attend secondary or higher education; when it comes to girls those figures drop further.
Finally, nutrition of children, in particular infants, is still an area of concern.