ISSN 2330-717X

Serbia To Curb Exodus Of Asylum-Seekers

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By Bojana Barlovac

Serbia is drawing up a combination of short and long-term measures to deal with the constantly growing number of people from the country seeking asylum in the EU, officials told Balkan Insight.

The European Union lifted visa requirements on citizens of Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro in December 2009.

Since then, Serbia has received several complaints concerning the number of ethnic Albanians and Roma people from the south of the country seeking asylum in Sweden, Belgium and Germany.

According to a UNHCR report, Serbia was the top country of origin for asylum seekers in 2010, sending more applicants to the industrialized world than either Afghanistan and Iraq.

Serbia
Serbia

Short-term measures to stem the embarrassing exodus include cracking down on travel agencies that are believed to be encouraging people to go to Europe to claim asylum.

Long-term measures will focus on improving basic living conditions in those areas from which the majority of asylum-seekers come.

Last week, Belgium sent a letter to the European Commission suggesting a suspension of the visa-free regime with Serbia.

“If Serbia fails to undertake necessary measures, Belgium is ready to request suspension [of the visa-free regime with Serbia],” the Belgian letter reads.

Abuses of the visa-free regime will be high on the agenda of the EU ministers meeting in June.

If Belgium requests suspension of the visa-free regime, it will need to obtain consent from all the other member states before the measure went into effect.

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Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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