During the December reporting period, RMF Serbia treated 1,026 patients—an average of 33 patients per day. Approximately 600 referrals were made to MSF/Miksalište for the treatment of body lice and scabies. A high number of refugees in the Belgrade city center are considered extremely vulnerable individuals, many with pressing medical needs that go beyond performing basic triage in the field.
RMF Serbia also worked to maintain and build partnerships through the following activities:
The authorities and the humanitarian community enhanced winterized shelter capacities and intensified winter NFI distribution. Though additional health risks were posed by the winter weather, authorities and health partners, including RMF, managed to reduce or eliminate body lice and scabies infections in all asylum and reception centers. Challenges remained in some transit centers and for the refugees and migrants who were not accommodated in government facilities but staying in the Belgrade city center.
During December, RMF negotiated a partnership with Doctors of the World (MDM) to share their medical clinic located within Miksalište Centre for Refugees. RMF will work in this clinic daily from 4:00 PM to 8:00 AM, commencing in January 2017. This will ensure that both program beneficiaries and RMF Serbia staff have a safe environment for patient care, as the temperatures plummet to minus 16°C in the coming weeks.
RMF continued to support the treatment of body lice and scabies in the city center, primarily through referrals and collaboration with MSF, which has exclusive access to the shower facilities in Miksalište Centre for Refugees. The showers are, however, not enough to successfully treat the affected population. Furthermore, due to the complete absence of sanitary facilities available for refugees “sleeping rough” (homeless) in Belgrade, they are infecting each other with body lice to gain access to the showers. Without expansion of sanitation facilities, the epidemic remains impossible to contain.
With continued irregular arrivals and limited regular departures (10 per day, excluding weekends, to Hungary), the estimated number of refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers in Serbia further rose to 7,000 during the month of December 2016.
According to all available data, most were not adult men, but:
Around 85% of them had fled “refugee-producing countries,” including:
1,120 intentions to seek asylum in Serbia were registered, raising the total for the year to 12,961.
There are ongoing discussions between civil society and the government of Serbia concerning the mass eviction of refugees and migrants from the Belgrade city center, and the government has requested support from humanitarian actors. In November, RMF offered support to the government of Serbia through the provision of information sharing and counseling of people regarding relocation once the steps to be taken by the government are clear.
RMF participated in a UNHCR-led service provision mapping exercise to ensure that humanitarian actors can contribute quickly to the government of Serbia’s response. The response for the Ministry of Labor was that they only require assistance with transportation and escorting to government facilities. RMF withdrew our offer, as we do not support the forcible removal of people, particularly in the absence of communication and required support structures.
RMF is the only medical service provider whose core work is to provide holistic medical care, which involves:
Once RMF’s outreach team identifies a patient:
Serbia continues to face an increasing number of asylum seekers: since the beginning of the refugee crisis, 393,069 people were registered in Serbia. Since January 2016, RMF has been responding to the refugee crisis by providing comprehensive protection and medical services to persons of concern. Our team works in and around Belgrade providing 24/7 access to needed services. Our main goal is to provide first aid and basic primary health care for refugees in Serbia. Our team also has the skills to identify and refer extremely vulnerable individuals—women, children, victims of sexual or gender based violence, victims of human trafficking, or victims of other forms of exploitation—for appropriate assistance and follow up by relevant institutions.
We recived a call about the boy from the camp for underage refugees, Vasa Stajić.
High temperature and sore throat.
We went there and examined him. He had a body temperature of 39.2°C and his pharynx examination indicated tonsillitis. Since refugees living in government shelters have the right to be examined in state hospitals, we transported/escorted him to the primary care center for children, where he was examined by a pediatrician, blood tests were performed, and viral tonsillitis was diagnosed. The pediatrician prescribed antipyretic paracetamol and oriblete. We provided him the needed medicines and transported him back to the shelter.
He tried to cross the border, and a Hungarian policeman hit him in the eye.
Painful, red eye.
We transported him to the ophthalmology clinic, where he was examined by a specialist with biomicroscope and was diagnosed with corneal erosion. The ophthalmologist presrcribed chloramphenicol ointment for 4 days and eye drops. We provided him with the needed medicines and transported him back to Miksalište.
Pain, unable to walk, swollen right ankle joint.
We took the boy to the Institute for Mothers and Children (children’s hospital), where the surgeon examined him. After examination, the surgeon requested an x-ray, which showed that he has no fracture, just dislocation. He received corrective splints. Since our shift was over, we left the second shift to take him to the primary health center for anti-tetanus.
We provided crutches for him to walk.
Nail plate of the big toe darkly stained (left leg). Periungual, whitish pus, and granulation.
He was driven by a surgeon accompanied by our organization. The surgeon said he had to go to the dermatologist. We took him to a dermatologist and the doctor examined him. We explained to the doctor that he cannot maintain good hygiene, which is very important. The doctor solved that by hospitalizing him to provide all-day care. The hospital admission was scheduled for tomorrow morning.
We went to the UNHCR doctor in Camp Krnjača to give us a referral for hospitalization, without which he could not be admitted to the hospital.