As of March 2008 there were 1,840 refugees/asylum seekers in the country, of whom the vast majority are Roma and Ashkali refugees from Kosovo who entered the country as of 1999. Only 28 have received recognised refugee status so far and none during the reporting period. Most applicants have been granted humanitarian protection for up to 12 months. The government needs to ensure that the ending of temporary protection status is based on independent, impartial evaluation of the human rights situation in Kosovo. Concerns persist regarding the independence of the government commission that hears appeals against first instance decisions on refugee status. The Administrative Court replaced the Supreme Court as the last instance for asylum cases. It has not yet issued any decision on an asylum case.

European Commission: The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 2008 Progress Report

Romano Them’s comments.

Asylum procedures in Bosnia and Herzegovina are largely in line with international standards. The number of asylum applications has increased substantially compared with 2006, mainly as a consequence of refugees from Kosovo losing their temporary admission status in September 2007.

A new Law on movement and stay of aliens and asylum entered into force in May 2008. The necessary implementing legislation remains to be adopted. The roles and tasks of the Ministry of Security and the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees, both of which are responsible for dealing with asylum-seekers and refugees, have been clarified. As regards improving the capacity to manage evidence of persons with recognised refugee status or other forms of international protection, greater efforts are needed to develop software requirement specifications for a database which will be part of the migration management project. The Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees is to be connected to the migration information system. The use of the asylum module of the migration information system needs to be enhanced. The capacity of the Ministry will need to be upgraded in order to implement the new legal framework adequately.

Bosnia and Herzegovina still lacks an appropriate permanent asylum reception centre. However, a temporary centre was opened in May 2008. The design for a new permanent centre has been completed and the construction project is in its final stage. The centre is expected to become fully operational in 2011. However, Bosnia and Herzegovina has not yet assumed full responsibility for managing and financing the existing asylum centres.

Overall, some progress has been made in the field of asylum.

Out of the approximately 3 000 refugees originating from Kosovo whose temporary admission status was withdrawn in September 2007, 870 persons submitted an asylum request. The Foreigners Affairs Service of Bosnia and Herzegovina has taken measures to finalise the status of those still residing on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

European Commission: Bosnia and Herzegovina 2008 Progress Report

In March 2008 there were more than 16,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Kosovo and around 8,500 displaced persons (under the government Decree on the care of displaced persons from 1992) from Croatia and from Bosnia and Herzegovina in Montenegro.

Some 300 IDPs have already returned to Kosovo. The question of how to deal with IDPs who do not want to leave the country remains unsolved. Construction of accommodation facilities for displaced Roma from Kosovo was initiated in early June 2008, but further financial support will be needed for the planned construction of ten buildings. Access to identity documents and permanent status, education and social services for many of them remains problematic, as do the prospects for their integration or return. Montenegro has received 15 asylum applications since its independence and granted refugee status in one case.

A Law on ID cards was adopted in November 2007. The government adopted a Regulation on the content of and manner of keeping records in the field of asylum. Laws on citizenship and registers of temporary and permanent residence were adopted in February 2008. A Law on employment and work of foreigners was adopted in March 2008.

Approximately 2,000 IDPs and displaced persons had made claims for resident status by the end of 2007. IDPs and displaced persons do not enjoy the economic and social rights of citizenship and their socio-economic situation remains a cause for serious concern. IDPs, mainly Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians originating from Kosovo, often lack ID documents or birth certificates and risk statelessness. Montenegro has yet to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the avoidance of statelessness in relation to State succession.

European Partnership priorities to repeal all discriminatory provisions in key fields affecting refugees and displaced persons and to provide conditions for integration of those who choose to remain in Montenegro have not yet been fulfilled.

The specific needs of Roma refugees from Kosovo have yet to be addressed.

Overall, there has been progress on strengthening the framework for minority protection. However, implementation is still lagging behind in some fields, in particular regarding the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian population. The conditions of IDPs and displaced persons remain a cause for serious concern.

European Commission: Montenegro 2008 Progress Report

The number of refugees from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina has decreased in recent years, mainly due to naturalisation. According to the UNHCR, there are around 97 000 refugees and 206 000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Serbia. The number of centres has been reduced. However, some 2 100 refugees and 5 500 IDPs are still accommodated in 60 centres and 99 specialised institutions. The conditions in those centres are very poor. The amendments to the Law on refugees and a national strategy on refugees and IDPs have not yet been adopted. IDP groups, in particular the Roma, continue to face serious difficulties obtaining identification papers and thus access to basic social services, including health care.

In January 2008, the Re-admission Agreement between Serbia and the EU entered into force. The agency for human and minority rights published a handbook for returnees. However, the national strategy on returnees and re-integration has not yet been adopted.

European Commission: Serbia 2008 Progress Report