’More than 125 000 refugees and asylum seekers have arrived in Serbia over the last year, and the numbers are expected to increase in the time ahead. Norway will now provide NOK 60 million in humanitarian assistance and support for strengthening the refugee reception system,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.
The refugee situation in Serbia, and in Europe as a whole, was at the top of the agenda when Mr Brende visited Serbia last week. Serbia and Macedonia have become buffer countries between the Schengen Area and Greece and Hungary. Most of the refugees who are now travelling through Serbia along the Balkan route were hoping to pass through Hungary to Germany. As Hungary has introduced stricter measures at the Serbian border, it is expected that the situation in Serbia will become considerably more difficult in the time ahead.
‘I would like to commend Serbia for its huge effort, and for the generosity that the authorities, civil society organisations and individuals have shown towards the large numbers of refugees, even though the country’s economic situation is already difficult. Norway wishes to support this effort, and is now providing NOK 30 million to strengthen the reception system in Serbia before winter sets in. We are also providing NOK 30 million for humanitarian assistance in Serbia and Macedonia,’ said Mr Brende.
Norway’s humanitarian assistance will be channelled through the UN, the Red Cross and other NGOs that are assisting refugees who have recently arrived in the Balkans.
‘The refugee situation is a shared European challenge that affects us all. Both Norway and Serbia want to contribute to a coordinated European policy in this area,’ said Mr Brende.