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On the occasion of World Refugee Day (20 June), we remember all the people who were forced to leave their homes and countries due to war, persecution, human rights violations, internal conflicts, natural disasters and other reasons.
UNHCR’s leading annual report “Global Displacement Trends in 2022” states that the number of people displaced due to wars, persecution, violence and human rights violations reached a record 108.4 million at the end of 2022. This is 19.1 million people more than the previous year and represents the largest annual increase so far. This information must be an incentive for us as a country committed to respecting and applying the conventions governing this issue, to work even harder to improve the rights of refugees and provide support to those in need.

Of the global number of displaced people, 35.3 million were refugees, that is, people who crossed the international border in search of a safe and better life. A larger part – 58% or 62.5 million people are displaced within their own countries due to conflict and violence. During 2022, the main driver of displacement was the war in Ukraine. The number of refugees from Ukraine increased from 27,300 at the end of 2021 to 5.7 million at the end of 2022. Currently, 4,953 persons from Ukraine who fled the war reside in Montenegro under temporary protection, of which 1,259 are children. The number of refugees from Ukraine is constantly increasing. The figures also confirmed that low- and middle-income countries, rather than rich ones, shelter the largest number of people, whether measured by economic parameters or population share.

The Civic Alliance in cooperation with UNHCR in Montenegro has been providing free legal assistance to asylum seekers since 2019, which includes representation before local institutions, as well as support in integration and access to necessary social services, the labor market and education. CA provides free legal assistance to persons from the territory of the former Yugoslavia and persons at risk of statelessness. Also, in response to the large influx of people from Ukraine, we opened offices in Bar and Herceg Novi and hired a legal advisor in Budva to strengthen support for the growing number of refugees from Ukraine, who are mostly located in coastal municipalities.

Overall, the legal system when it comes to migration in Montenegro is highly aligned with the EU acquis, while the application of the law in certain areas still represents a significant challenge. Montenegro should especially strengthen its capacities for managing mixed migration flows, whereby special emphasis should be placed on increasing human and material resources dedicated to border management and the refugee and migrant registration system. It is equally important that in the coming period, Montenegro continue to strengthen its normative activities, with the aim of full harmonization with EU law, along with the constant strengthening of human and material capacities in the area of asylum.

During 2022, 8,326 persons expressed their intention to request international protection in Montenegro, and only 175 of them submitted a request for international protection, while eight of them eventually received some form of international protection in Montenegro. In 2023, by mid-June 1,627 persons expressed their intention to request international protection in Montenegro, and only 53 of them submitted a request, while eight of them have received international protection in Montenegro so far. On the other hand, Montenegro enabled all refugees from the former Yugoslavia to integrate into Montenegrin society, if they wished so. However, 63 of them are still in the process of permanently resolving their legal status.

As part of the marking of the World Refugee Day, this year we have traditionally organized an event in Bar, where we will be joined by representatives of local, national and international institutions, as well as the refugees themselves who are in the territory of Montenegro. The event is planned for 21 June on the plateau of the Castle of King Nikola, starting at 7 p.m. More about the event at: https://gamn.org/we-are-marking-world-refugee-day/?lang=en