Serbia is at the heart of the overland route that refugees are currently taking through Europe
Serbia has connected East with West for centuries – a land in which civilisations, cultures, faiths, climates and landscapes meet and mingle.
The landlocked country is at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula, in southeastern Europe, and has a population of more than 7.2 million people.
Médecins Sans Frontiéres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has worked sporadically in Serbia since 1991, when the country was part of the former Yugoslavia.
We provided medical and mental healthcare for people directly affected by the conflict in the Balkans, as well as its aftereffects.
Today, we provide medical care to people travelling through Serbia in their attempts to reach Europe and a better life.
Afghan man, 27-years-old
“I had to cross many countries to come here: first Iran, then Turkey and finally Bulgaria. The border between Iran and Afghanistan was the most dangerous… I was also detained for two and a half months in Bulgaria.
“I have been here [Subotica] for four days, and every day I try to cross the border [to Hungary] but so far I have not succeeded. Each time I fail I have no choice but to come back here, there is nowhere else to go. It is very cold and I can barely sleep at night.”
MSF’s work in Serbia: 2016
Since 2014, MSF has provided medical and psychological assistance channels for asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in Serbia.
MSF teams were present in Miratovac to provide medical assistance to hundreds of people who walked across the border between the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Serbia.
In Šid, MSF operated inside a transit centre next to the train station and set up eight large heated tents with a capacity for more than 2,000 people. Activities were handed over in March, as camp numbers had fallen and other organisations were meeting the needs there.
From April to November 2016, MSF assisted people stranded in appalling conditions around Subotica. MSF carried out 7,407 medical consultations, and registered a steady and significant increase in various violence-related traumas. During 2016, MSF treated 82 people for dog bites, irritations from tear gas and pepper spray, or injuries from beatings inflicted on them as they attempted to cross the Serbian-Hungarian border.
Since 2014, MSF has provided basic medical and mental healthcare to people in reception and asylum facilities and operated mobile clinics. MSF conducted more than 18,000 consultations in 2016, and focused on providing services to undocumented migrants living in abandoned train depots, without access to healthcare.