We work to protect and assist refugees, but our ultimate goal is to find solutions that allow them to rebuild their lives, become self-sustainable and lead dignified lives in peace.
The preferred durable solutions are:
Voluntary repatriation – a solution for refugees who have decided to return home. Together with the country of origin and international community, UNHCR strives to facilitate their choice through ‘go-and-see’ visits, education, legal aid, and family reunification. In 2019, 5.6 million refugees repatriated to their home countries. To date, our efforts have helped hundreds of thousands of people around the world to return to their countries of origin.
According to the data from the countries of return, the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration and UNHCR, some 150,000 refugees repatriated from Serbia to BiH (approximately 80,000 refugees) and Croatia (approximately 70,000 refugees) since the late ‘90s.
The second alternative for those who are unable to return home is integration within the host community. This is often a complex process which places considerable demands on both the individual and the receiving society. However, it also has benefits, allowing refugees to contribute socially and economically. Over the past decade, 1.1 million refugees around the world have become citizens in their country of asylum.
Aiming to support sustainable integration of the persons of concern while also encouraging their participation in making decisions about their own future, UNHCR in Serbia supports preparation of individual integration plans and regular follow-up with individual beneficiaries and families. This process is led by the Serbian Commissariat for Refugees and Migration and UNHCR, in synergy with national partner organizations expert in various fields (legal assistance, psycho-social support, support in crisis situations etc.). To date, more than 350,000 refugees from former Yugoslavia obtained citizenship of the Republic of Serbia.
Identification of optimal durable solutions also entails information sharing and coordination of activities with the other relevant national stakeholders (Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour, Employment, Social and Veteran Affairs, etc.). UNHCR and the Serbian Commissariat for Refugees and Migration (SCRM) established a local integration team to work on local integration issues including:
Economic inclusion. UNHCR supports refugees and asylum-seekers in obtaining working permits, establishes cooperation with employers (private businesses/ SMEs, big commercial chains etc.), in order to facilitate their placement on the job market,
Inclusion into mainstream education. Refugee and migrant children have access to all levels of education in Serbia, which was one of the first countries that started enrolling refugee and migrant children into schools in early 2016. Given the age of children, the majority attend primary schools, and a certain number attends secondary education. In 2021, joint efforts are being invested to start enrolment of refugee, asylum seeking and migrant children into tertiary education.
Livelihood support. The program seeks to enhance self-reliance of refugees and asylum-seekers. Livelihood components, including Serbian language learning, various trainings and provision of tools/equipment for income generation activities benefit the persons granted international protection in the Republic of Serbia and the asylum-seekers.
Social inclusion. UNHCR supports a range of activities aimed at linking refugees and asylum-seekers with the local communities, learning about Serbian history, culture and tradition, etc.
Cash Based Interventions (CBI). UNHCR supports the most vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers with cash assistance to satisfy their most acute needs to help them stabilize following displacement.
For those who neither repatriate because of continued conflict or persecution in their country of origin nor integrate in the country of asylum, resettlement to another country is one alternative. In certain circumstances, resettlement may be an alternative for a limited number of refugees. Although UNHCR is working with the states to increase the ever-shrinking resettlement opportunities, final decisions with regards to resettlement are taken by receiving countries and not by UNHCR or authorities of the host country. To aid this process, we provide cultural orientation, language and vocational training, as well as access to education and employment in the host country. However, of the 20.4 million refugees under UNHCR mandate around the world, only 22,770 were resettled in 2020, making it the lowest refugee resettlement numbers the Agency has witnessed in almost two decades. We work with the states to increase the ever-decreasing resettlement opportunities.
UNHCR Serbia assisted limited resettlement of mandate refugees and refugees from BiH and Croatia the establishment of the Office in 1976 and until mid-2000.
Serbia is no longer considered as a country wherefrom resettlement is necessary and thus UNHCR does not have a resettlement programme.