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Serbia: Mobile Medical Clinic

7,059 Refugees Provided with Care: Q4 2017

January 17, 2018
Reporting Officer Marjan al Mahamid, with input from Coordinator of Global Programs N’Deane Helajzen and Program Manager Žarko Stanić, together with RMF Serbia’s Medical Officers: Dr. Andrijana Ljubojević, Dr. Dragana Marković, Dr. Daniel Pejković, Dr. Jovana Milić, Dr. Nataša Benović, Dr. Milica Radonjić, and Dr. Mina Novaković

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A patient receiving treatment for ear pain, Obrenovac Transit Centre

A patient receiving treatment for ear pain, Obrenovac Transit Centre

Current Context in Serbia

Increase in Arrivals from Iran

During the fourth quarter of 2017, the number of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants increased slightly in Serbia, with 4,273 counted on December 24, 2017. Of these, around 3,999 (94%) were accommodated in one of five asylum centers or thirteen reception centers. Most are from Afghanistan (46%), followed by nationals of Pakistan (21%), Iran (12%), Iraq (10%), Syria (2%), and other countries (9%).

At the end of September 2017, Serbia lifted its visa requirements for Iranian and Indian citizens. Due to the current situation in Iran, and because its citizens no longer require a visa to enter Serbia, the fourth quarter saw an increase of new arrivals from Iran, primarily entering by air.

According to UNHCR data in December 2017, 497 persons registered intention to seek asylum in Serbia. 55% were filed by adult men, 12% by adult women, and 33% were registered for children. Most asylum applications were filed by citizens of Iran (30%), Pakistan (30%), Afghanistan (18%), or Iraq (12%). In December, one person was awarded subsidiary protection, bringing the total number of positive first-instance decisions by the Asylum Office in 2017 to 14, of which 3 received refugee status and 11 subsidiary protection, in comparison to 2016, when 19 persons were granted refugee status and 23 subsidiary protection.

RMF team members working over the Christmas and New Year holidays, sending peace and love for 2018

RMF team members working over the Christmas and New Year holidays, sending peace and love for 2018

RMF’s Presence

Mobile Medical Clinic Operating 16 Hours Per Day, 7 Days Per Week

During this period, the outreach mobile medical team was operating 16 hours a day (from 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM), 7 days a week. Our teams worked in Greater Belgrade from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM and, including driving time, at the mobile clinic in Obrenovac Reception Centre from 2:00 PM to 11:00 PM, 7 days a week. Our team at the medical clinic in Adaševci Transit Centre continued operating from 4:00 PM to midnight, 7 days a week.

RMF Serbia’s team continued to provide holistic medical care and support to persons of concern during the reporting period:

  • RMF Serbia provided 3,735 health consultations to men, women, and children refugees and migrants in Belgrade and Obrenovac.
  • RMF Serbia provided 3,324 health consultations to men, women, and children refugees and migrants in Adaševci Transit Centre in Western Serbia.
  • RMF Serbia continued to provide medical services, interpretation, translation and cultural mediation, escorting, and transportation to secondary medical and other facilities in 127 cases.
  • RMF provided assorted drugs and medical care, as well as hygiene packs, dignity and safety kits, and children’s kits to support the response to refugees.

Over the period of three months, with an average daily OPD of 78 patients, RMF Serbia provided a total of 7,059 men, women, and children with health services in Belgrade, Obrenovac, and Adaševci.

RMF patient suffering from injuries due to violence

RMF patient suffering from injuries due to violence

Ongoing Violence in Asylum Centers

RMF Extends a Helping Hand

Crimes, including incidents of theft, brawls, and physical assaults among refugees, as well as attacks on police officers, are common in asylum shelters in Serbia, especially in all-male shelters such as Obrenovac Reception Centre, where RMF’s team is the leading healthcare provider for more than 600 refugees. Cramped spaces, constant noise, sleep deprivation, abuse of alcohol and drugs, as well as an uncertain future generate fear and aggression in which religious and ethnic differences are used as an excuse for violence. RMF is working to amend the physical and emotional consequences of the violence that is present in Obrenovac Reception Centre daily; however, without the support and understanding of the authorities and the entire community, problems will remain, and we will keep on treating symptoms instead of the cause. Psychosocial support and integration mechanisms would go far towards creating hope and diffusing tension among refugees and asylum seekers.

A patient in Obrenovac receiving breathing treatment

A patient in Obrenovac receiving breathing treatment

Respiratory Inflammation Triggers

Helping to Treat Patients and Improve Quality of Life

The area of Obrenovac is considered to be polluted, with air, water, and earth pollutants coming from a nearby thermal power plant, causing an increase in the number of local residents suffering from respiratory tract infections and obstructive lung diseases like bronchitis and asthma. Since the reception center in Obrenovac was opened in April 2017, RMF’s team started noticing an increase in the number of refugees suffering from acute bronchitis, newly diagnosed asthma, and worsening of preexisting asthma. Patients have been treated mainly with inhaled bronchodilators and corticosteroids. With the constant supervision of RMF doctors and implementation of chronic preventive therapy for obstructive lung diseases, most the patients’ quality of life has improved.

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  • Improve the health status and overall wellbeing of refugees in Obrenovac Reception and Transit Centre and greater Belgrade.
  • Provide medical and translation services to refugees and act as cultural mediators for them at public institutions in Serbia.
  • Refer, transport, and escort refugees and asylum seekers to secondary and tertiary medical care facilities in Belgrade.
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RMF provides primary healthcare and emergency triage services at our Obrenovac Transit Centre mobile medical clinic from 3:00 PM to 10:00 PM, 5 days a week. The work is implemented by a medical team consisting of 1 to 2 doctors, 1 cultural mediator/translator, and 2 drivers. This ensures that emergency cases arriving at the clinic can immediately access referrals to secondary and tertiary care facilities. By providing primary healthcare services, referrals, and cultural mediation, RMF improves the wellbeing of refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers in Belgrade and Obrenovac.

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        Initiative Page: Mobile Medical Clinic
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