Each year, many people fleeing war, persecution and violence transit through Montenegro on their way to Western Europe. Since 2012, however, more and more have sought asylum here. Of the nearly 8,000 people who in 2019 initially stated an intention to apply for asylum in Montenegro, some 1,921 people went on to actually do so – almost a quarter of the total.
For 28 years, UNHCR in Montenegro has helped refugees by providing legal and material aid, as well as psychosocial support, while at the same time working with Montenegro to develop its asylum capacities.
“Montenegro’s open-door policy in the aftermath of the dissolution of former Yugoslavia paved the way for the integration of nearly 12,500 ex-Yugoslav refugees. This is a great example of how even small countries can protect people in need of refuge.”
Adrian Edwards, UNHCR’s interim representative in Montenegro
“Today’s asylum environment is changing but UNHCR will continue to be a partner for Montenegro as it develops its asylum capabilities further,” said Edwards.
Since the establishment of an asylum system in Montenegro in 2007, 84 people have been given refugee status. While some of these have since left Montenegro, 31 continue to live here stably. Kiril is among those who have found refuge in Montenegro and embraced it as their new home. This is his story.
It has been two years since Kirill arrived in Montenegro seeking asylum. Kirill recalls being scared, confused and in disbelief that he would find a helping hand. Nonetheless, with a step by step approach and mostly due to his positive, adaptable and friendly nature, Kirill managed to settle in the small municipality of Zabljak. Even though the first few months after the arrival were uncertain, Kirill began to build a life in Montenegro – learning the language, interacting with the locals and making friends.
“My first friends in Montenegro were the UNHCR employees. For me UNHCR symbolizes the bridge between United Nations and asylum seekers.”
By Ana Puljiz | 3 December 2020