Head of the European Union Delegation in Serbia, Ambassador Sem Fabrizi, participated in the event on the Protection of Unaccompanied and Separated Asylum-Seeking, Refugee and Migrant Children in Serbia organized jointly by the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, UNHCR and UNICEF in Belgrade on March 12. This discussion and roundtable aimed at addressing one of the current biggest migrant crisis problems, unaccampanied migrant children, was also attended by Mr. Zoran Đorđević, Minister of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs in Serbia, Mr. Hans Friedrich Schodder, the UNHCR Serbia representative, Mr. Karox Pishtewan, a young Iraqi refugee in Serbia, and a representative of UNICEF Serbia.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Fabrizi emphasized the importance of enforcing European Union law and respecting the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and international human rights law on the rights of the child: “In terms of EU policy, protecting children is first and foremost about upholding European values of respect for human rights, dignity and solidarity,” pointed out the Ambassador, adding that: “EU has always kept a special focus on the most vulnerable groups among migrants and refugees, in particular Unaccompanied and Separated Asylum-Seeking, Refugee and Migrant Children. This issue poses challenges to us all, here in Serbia, indeed worldwide, and, of course in the EU.”
In addressing the attendees of the event, Minister Đorđević thanked the EU Delegation in Serbia on its support and help since the beginning of the migrant crisis, emphasizing that the biggest current problem is how to protect unaccompanied and separated asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant children in Serbia: “The characteristic of contemporary migrations is presence of a large number of migrant children. At the moment, there are around 500 underage migrants in Serbia.” Minister Đorđević pointed out that Serbia, with its partners, will mobilize all its available resources to help these children to stay off of streets, provide them with shelter and food, healthcare and opportunity to attend school.
Since September 2015, the EU financial assistance for Serbia aimed at addressing migration issues has reached 100 million Euros, of which nearly 59 million Euros were provided through Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) and 20 million Euros under humanitarian assistance. In addition, EU Member States provided bilateral assistance in this area worth 20 million Euros.