Access to territory to people fleeing war and persecution in their home countries is one of the essential rights laid down in the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the relevant European legal instruments. The countries should not impose penalties on refugees for their illegal entry and presence on their territory, provided they present themselves to the authorities and show good cause for such illegal entry or presence. The countries are also to allow unimpeded access to asylum procedures.
Although the Western Balkans route de facto closed in early March 2016, mixed movements of refugees and migrants persist. In 2021, following one of the main migratory routes towards the European Union, refugees and migrants enter the Republic of Serbia mostly from North Macedonia, Romania and Bulgaria. A significant decrease in the number of arrivals, intentions to seek asylum and asylum applications has been recorded in 2020 relative to the same period in 2019.
UNHCR and its partners systematically collect information on arrivals, identify the most vulnerable categories and refer them to the appropriate services, focusing on persons with international protection needs. Unaccompanied children, their protection and inclusion into society, including their inclusion into tertiary education remain in special focus of the Serbia operation.