The contract will also provide funding for deploying up to 50 guest officers from the EU Member States to Serbia and re-deploying national border police officers. This will help strengthen the operational capacity of the national Border Police officers in conducting border management activities, in line with relevant EU and international standards.
Finally, an operational and logistics support office will be established in Pirot, to act as a coordination hub for border management activities of national and guest officers on the country’s eastern border.
The Head of the EU Delegation, Ambassador Michael Davenport, said: “The contract with the IOM will strengthen EU’s long-standing cooperation with Serbia in the area of migration controls. We are impressed by Serbia’s constructive and pragmatic response to the migration crisis, and humane approach towards refugees and migrants. The EU has stood by Serbia and provided most of the funding to cover the needs of migrants crossing the country. Serbian leaders and experts have participated in, and also hosted, discussions addressing migration issue. We have exchanged information and coordinated our response on a daily basis. We will continue working together to never allow return to uncontrolled migration flows of last year, while providing humane living conditions for the refugees and migrants.”
As an immediate measure, the EU has decided to provide additional support to Bulgaria, through which many migrants travel to Serbia. This support will include significant numbers of extra border guards and vehicles, and assistance to strengthen Bulgaria’s reception capacities.
The EU Delegation will continue cooperating closely with the Serbian authorities, including by providing necessary funds for:
- securing Serbia’s external borders, through funding of guest border police officers from the EU and equipping Serbian officers with vehicles and surveillance means;
- housing refugees and migrants in shelters and ensuring their humane treatment through reconstruction of shelters, covering housing costs, food and clothing, and other support;
- further improving capacities of the Serbian administration, including also by financing running costs of shelters and paying salaries of their Serbian staff.
The Delegation will also cooperate on returns and integration: processing asylum claims, arranging voluntary returns or returning ineligible applicants to their home countries, and supporting successful integration of refugees who are eligible to stay under international conventions. The EU will continue regular coordination of actions between all countries in the region, to increase efficiency and ensure security of citizens.