The Regional Center for Minorities (RCM) released the following statement about the situation outside of the Centre for Asylum Seekers in Bogovađa, Serbia. The centre had been running over its capacity for months, until the management decided to stop accommodating the surplus of people, leaving about a hundred asylum seekers living outside, without shelter, water or food. This situation is becoming untenable as temperatures fall.
Belgrade, 25 September 2012 - The Regional Centre for Minorities strongly condemns the worrying situation outside the Centre for Asylum Seekers in Bogovađa, which our activists visited on the 12 September 2012. Between eighty and a hundred asylum seekers are currently living outside, as the centre is filled to its maximum capacity of 150 people.
The basic human rights (both in terms of life and the right to a dignified life) of the people outside the centre are endangered as they do not have a roof over their heads, access to water, basic sanitation or adequate food.
With this treatment of asylum seekers, the Serbian state is breaking its own laws as well as international standards, which state that everyone who seeks asylum should be accommodated and have their basic needs met within 72 hours, continuing until the final decision on their asylum claim has been reached.
The Centre for Asylum Seekers in Bogovađa is, apart from the centre in Banja Koviljača, the only centre of this kind in Serbia. Asylum seekers were first accommodated there in June 2011. After racist mobilisations in Banja Koviljača in October 2011, many asylum seekers were relocated to Bogovađa and the centre quickly exceeded its capacity. In July 2012, 229 were being accommodated in the centre.
As the number of asylum seekers in Serbia continues to rise, the existing centres are too small to accommodate everybody. However, the Commissariat for Refugees of Republic of Serbia (KIRS), responsible for the accommodation of asylum seekers, has not been opening new centres.
The asylum system in Serbia has many serious shortcomings. Since 2008, when the independent asylum system started in Serbia, no one has been granted refugee status. This means that Serbia is effectively not a country in which migrants can permanently regularise their status through claiming asylum. However, many undocumented migrants in Serbia seek asylum, because this is the only way for them to gain even a temporary legal status and have at least temporary access to basic rights, such as a roof over their heads and healthcare. It is thus disgraceful to see that, even after they have claimed asylum, migrants are not accommodated in the centers and are forced to continue to sleep outside.
The Regional Centre for Minorities demands that the authorities find a solution for accommodating those asylum seekers in front of the centre in Bogovađa as soon as possible, especially as the weather conditions worsen, which could gravely exacerbate an already inhumane situation. We also believe that it is imperative to end human rights violations and to ensure compliance with international standards, representing the minimum of the state’s obligations towards asylum seekers, and provide them with the means necessary for their survival.