The Child Protection Hub has researched how a series of recent changes in law and policy in the region of South East Europe have affected the work of those on the frontline engaging with refugee and migrant children in Serbia.
Here are our key findings:
- Policies connected to border/ corridor closures have had a noticeably negative impact on the mental health of refugees and migrants. Refugees and migrants are suffering from increased levels of anxiety and depression as a result of the uncertainty such policies create. This means psychosocial services are increasingly stretched.
- Constant changes in policy and law makes the task of distributing accurate child-friendly information to refugees and migrant children very difficult. At the same time, because of changes in law and policy, the potential consequences of misinforming beneficiaries are more serious.
- Policies are currently being applied in haphazard and inconsistent ways by the authorities. For example, some frontline workers involved in this research described interacting with the authorities as a ‘daily battle’. This has ramifications on whether frontline worker’s can provide reliable, regular and optimally effective services.
- Recent policy change has created harsher conditions in the camps and transit zones. This means that under-resourced frontline workers are themselves facing higher levels of pressure, even moral dilemmas, which could cause ‘burnout’ if not monitored.
Potential ‘next steps’ which child protection organizations and other NGOs might consider taking to alleviate the situation are also proposed. For more information about the scope, aims and findings of this research, download and read the full report here.