NGO Atina at the working meeting The rights of unaccompanied and separated refugee children in Serbia

On Monday, May 22 2017, the final, sixth working meeting The rights of unaccompanied and separated refugee children in Serbia was held in Belgrade, organized by Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, to mark the end of the project “Making a Difference for Refugee Children in Europe”.

Participants of the working meeting were, among others, representatives of the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, Commissariat for Refugees and Migration, Committee on the Rights of the Child, International Rescue Committee, Red Cross, UNHCR, DRC, SOS Children’s Villages, PIN, Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, and Citizens’ Association Atina.

The aim of the working meeting was to present recommendations defined by representatives of state institutions and civil sector during the previous five meetings in Belgrade, Subotica, Sabac and Nis. After that, participants defined final recommendations for improving the practice of providing protection for unaccompanied and separated refugee children in four areas: first contact with unaccompanied children and standards of conduct; the victims - identification and treatment; alternative care; and, intersectoral cooperation.

Jelena Hrnjak, programme manager of the Association “Atina” led one of the four working groups, where participants closely considered recommendations defined during the previous working meetings, and after that, based on the conclusions reached during the discussion, formulated final recommendations for improving the position of unaccompanied and separated refugee children in Serbia. Among others, the following final recommendations have been adopted on this occasion:

- During the first contact with children, it is necessary to conduct preliminary identification and registration of all children, regardless of whether they are asylum seekers, refugees, or migrants.

- It is necessary for competent ministries, and the Ministry of the Interior in particular, to organize continuous training for all the officers who come into contact with unaccompanied children, in order to familiarize them with the rights of the child, and to further sensitize them to work with this particularly vulnerable group.

- Civil society organizations should enter into the process of licensing the services they provide, and the state should recognize them as relevant service providers and support them financially.

- Establish specialized centers for the accommodation and reception of unaccompanied children, with sufficient number of trained staff, including full-time interpreters, and at the same time develop and advocate alternative forms of care for unaccompanied children.

- Ensure the systematic application of the right to education for all children who are in the territory of the Republic of Serbia, regardless of their legal status, legal status of their parents, or the length of their stay in the country.

- Formalize intersectoral cooperation between governmental, nongovernmental, and international organizations and bodies, in all segments of the protection of unaccompanied children, whereby the state should prescribe protection standards and take over the role of the coordinator of the entire process.

- Map all the relevant providers of services to unaccompanied children and, accordingly, form and regularly update a contact base in order to facilitate the referral system on the ground. In addition, it is necessary to form a network of different actors at the local level, and to strengthen their capacities to provide adequate protection to unaccompanied children, both legal and psychosocial.

During this meeting, the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights presented a draft version of the final document “Position of unaccompanied and separated refugee children in Serbia”, which also involves all the final recommendations. The report can be found via the following link:


More information about this working meeting can be read via the link: