Vucic's "symbolic act may change policy on asylum seekers"
Info Park is welcoming the initiative of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to grant Serbian citizenship to the family of 10-year old Farhad Nouri.Source: B92
The boy is a refugee from Afghanistan currently residing in Serbia, the Belgrade refugee support center for protection, education and empowerment said in a statement on Thursday.
"We strongly believe this symbolic act will be a watershed in the official policy towards asylum seekers in Serbia. We hope to see a much bigger number of efficiently processed and approved asylum requests soon, compared to a current situation of only one approved asylum in 2017 so far," the statement said.
Info Park recalled that "it was the visit of Aleksandar Vucic, then Serbian prime minister to the refugees in Belgrade parks in the summer of 2017 that strongly defined a positive attitude of Serbia towards refugee crisis."
This is exactly why we hope that this new, important gesture of Serbian president will be equally crucially important for a fundamental improvement of asylum procedures needed for better protection and more asylums for the refugees, the center said.
Stevan Tatalovic, Info Park data analyst said that “so far, the asylum procedure proved to be slow and restrictive, resulting in a small number of approved and a high number of canceled, refused or rejected asylum cases."
"In 2016, Serbia granted 16 asylums from 574 requests. In 2017, it’s even worse: so far only 1 asylum from 158 requests. Some of the neighboring countries, despite harsh measures on its borders, showed much better efficiency in asylum politics. Hungary, the country often criticized for its anti-refugee stance, provided 528 refugees with asylum or subsidiary protection from 1814 requests in 2017," Tatalovic said
According to Info Park, Serbia recently drafted the new Law on Asylum and the Law on Foreigners, as the first steps towards modern, European legal framework in this field - however, "it is yet to be seen when they will be put into effect, but this is a necessary change needed to provide better protection of asylum seekers and more efficient legislation."
"While welcoming the Serbian president's gesture, Info Park expects that it will act as a symbolic introduction towards new politics of Serbia towards asylum seekers, better informing about their rights, duties and procedures, more efficient response towards realistic requests for protection, and - last but not least - launch of activities aimed to real integration into society. As organization that provided some of the best education and empowerment programs for migrants, Info Park will be glad to offer its resources and expertise to the state during this process," the statement said, and concluded:
"It’s a high time that the mutual consensus between refugees and Serbia resulting in lack of interest for stay in the country, is finally left behind us. Info Park is confident that among 4,413 refugees and migrants currently sheltered in government camps, there are a plenty of those that deserve a similar treatment young Farhad and his family got."