On the occasion of 20 June, the World Refugee Day – Civic Alliance (CA) wishes to inform the domestic public about the problems that refugees face in Montenegro, as well as emphasize the need for effective cooperation with government agencies to protect refugees, in accordance with the basic principles of humanity, international standards and national legislation.
The number of refugees in the world has increased by 25 percent in the past two years, and according to the estimates of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) more than 100 million people have been forcibly displaced around the planet. More than 40 percent of that number are children. The reasons for mass and forced displacements include, inter alia, war conflicts, political persecution and economic disturbances, while environmental problems are increasingly present among the causes. Although problems of this type do not yet burden Montenegrin society significantly, the mere mention of lack of drinking water, polluted air and climate change as a cause of displacement of entire communities, cannot be ignored.
On the other hand, displacement of this scale and as a consequence of such causes is frequently accompanied by human rights violations – from countries of origin, through transit countries, all the way to countries where they officially seek asylum. From the right to life, the prevention of torture, to discrimination and access to basic state services that guarantee a life worthy of a human being – refugees go through serious problems, often facing stigma and prejudice instead of understanding and solidarity.
During 2021, 3336 people expressed their intention to seek international protection in Montenegro, and only 8% or 272 of them applied for international protection, while 14 of them eventually received some form of international protection in Montenegro.
By the end of May 2022, 1040 people expressed their intention to seek international protection in Montenegro, and only 7% of them, or 68 people, applied. Five of them received international protection in Montenegro so far.
On the other hand, Montenegro has enabled all refugees from the former Yugoslavia, who wished to do so, to integrate into Montenegrin society. Nevertheless, 192 of them are still in the process of permanently resolving their legal status.
The number of refugees from Ukraine is continuously on the rise as well. Currently, more than 8000 people from Ukraine who fled the war, which has been going on in the country for four months, are staying in Montenegro, while 3573 people have applied for temporary protection, with a longer wait for a document on approved protection.
Since 2019, the Civic Alliance in cooperation with the UNHCR in Montenegro has been providing free legal aid to asylum seekers, which includes representation before domestic institutions, as well as support during the integration process and access to necessary social services, labor market and education. CA provides free legal aid to persons from the former Yugoslavia and persons at risk of statelessness. Also, CA recently opened a regional office in Bar, in order to increase support for the growing number of refugees from Ukraine, who are mostly located in coastal municipalities.