The announcement of additional aid comes as Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides is currently on his fourth visit to Serbia, where he is assessing the humanitarian situation on the ground and discussing the EU's humanitarian support for refugees with government officials. The new projects will finance food distribution in reception centres, the protection of the most vulnerable groups in affected populations during the upcoming winter months, and education-related activities.
"Serbia has been a reliable partner to the European Union, and our partnership has allowed an effective response to the refugee crisis. The EU has been a leading provider of humanitarian aid to the hosting of refugees in Serbia since 2015. We have helped improve conditions in many reception centres, contributed to food provision in camps, provided education in emergencies to children and helped in providing health services. The additional projects announced today will address the needs of the most vulnerable population especially during the upcoming winter season," said Commissioner Stylianides.
Since 2015, the EU has been the largest contributor of emergency aid to Serbia. Humanitarian aid from the Commission's now stands at €25 million, and has enabled the provision of emergency assistance (food, water, hygiene, essential items, health and protection) at transit and reception points, including borders and waiting areas. The aid has also gone towards the reinforcement of Serbian border control capabilities. A total of more than €80 million have been provided to the country in EU migration-related funding since 2015.
EU humanitarian assistance includes direct support to refugees through the Commission's humanitarian partners, and also capacity-building to enable Serbian authorities to respond more effectively. The most significant efforts have been made to improve conditions at the government-run reception centres, where the EU has been the main and sometimes sole donor. As a result, the reception centres are now able to accommodate up to 6000 people.
Serbia has also benefitted from support via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism in 2015, when 10 EU Member States provided a total of over 246 000 relief items for the refugee crisis such as blankets, beds, and warm clothing.
As of mid-September 2017, over 4000 refugees and asylum-seekers are registered in Serbia – roughly the same number as a year ago.