If you are, this information is for you! You will find information about services for children and young people who have had to flee Ukraine and are now in Serbia.
I’m under 18, what do I need to know about my rights here?
You are welcome in Serbia and have the right to stay in Serbia. You and your family are safe here and no-one can force you to go anywhere you don’t want to. The authorities, many local and international organisations are here to help you. You can get help with accommodation, food, transport, health and schooling for you and your family. As a child, you have special rights such as the right to stay with your family, to go to school and to have your ideas and views taken seriously.
Do I need a visa to be able to stay in the country or register with the authorities?
Children and their families fleeing from Ukraine have been welcomed by all countries in the region and are able to stay in Serbia for 90 days without a visa. You are not required to present travel documents when crossing the border if you are escaping from the armed conflict in Ukraine, but you might be asked to present personal identification, so remember to bring your most important documents with you if you are able (internal passport, foreign passport, birth certificates). For visa free travel within the Schengen area of the European Union, you will need a biometric passport. In many countries, you will need to register with the authorities, UNHCR or local organisations to get assistance. For more information about procedures to register in Serbia, see the “Protection and Asylum in Serbia” section of the website: https://help.unhcr.org/serbia/applying-for-asylum-in-serbia/
I need help – who should I ask?
There are many organisations here to help – this includes the authorities of Serbia, local associations and people such as border guards, police officers, social workers, psychologists, medical staff, teachers, local authorities, and specialized non-profit organisations. UNHCR is the United Nations Organisation responsible for refugees – the international agency responsible for protecting and assisting refugees, together with the local authorities and other partners.
If you need information or support from UNHCR, you can contact us by email or through a hotline, available below. It’s a good idea to talk to your parents or a trusted adult first, but you can also contact us on your own. Make sure you tell us your name, age, and your phone /WhatsApp number or email address @, or any other way to get in touch with you. It’s also a good idea to tell us the names of your parents if they are in Serbia with you. If you are not with your parents, you should also tell us that. UNHCR Serbia phone +381 63 432 499, e-mail [email protected].
There are so many organisations and people offering to help. How do I know who to trust?
Many people want to help and are offering support, but it is important to know who to trust. Staff working with organisations who are registered to help should wear a vest, jacket, or carry an ID card with a logo. If you are not sure, ask to see their ID. You have the right to refuse support from citizens or organizations if you are not sure who they are or don’t feel comfortable. If you are not sure who to trust, ask an adult who you trust or who is working with organisations registered to help and has an ID. You can also go to the UNHCR website for reliable information you can trust: https://help.unhcr.org/serbia/
I am in Serbia with my family. How can I make sure we stay together?
After all that you have been through, it is even more important do everything you can to stay together with your parents or family. Simple things can help a lot. Try to travel and find accommodation together as a family. If you are in a new place, make sure you visit it with your family or other people who know the area and you trust before going out by yourself. When you go out, tell a parent or relative or someone you trust where you are going and when you are coming back. Keep the contact details of your family or parents with you at all times. Know the address where you and your family will be staying and send the details to someone you trust. Plan together for what to do if you are separated from your family.
I’m staying in Serbia without my parents. What kind of help can I get?
If you are in Serbia alone, or without your parents or other family members, you have the right to get help from the authorities or other organisations to find a safe place to stay and be cared for. If you are not travelling with your parents or other family members, make sure you tell the authorities, UNHCR or local organisation responsible for caring for children so that you can be provided with a safe place to stay and other assistance. You can also call the UNHCR help line+381 63 432 499.
If you are travelling with your family, but not with your parents you can stay with your family, but it is important to tell the authorities, UNHCR or other organisations who are helping you who your parents are, where you think they are and any contact information you have for them.
If you don’t know where your parents or family are, or you have lost touch with them let us know. It’s not always easy or possible to find people who are missing, or to get families back together, but children have a right to be with their parents and family. We can also try to help you find them and get in touch with them.
I feel sad, irritable, worried, scared, or confused. Is this normal?
It is normal to feel upset after having to leave your country and seeing or hearing about so many terrifying things. You may have difficulty to put things that you saw or experienced out of your mind. You may be separated from people you love and worried about them or worried what will happen next. Some simple things to try that may help you cope with this difficult situation:
- Try to keep a routine as much as possible, such as getting up at regular time and helping around the house
- Spend time with your family and friends doing things you enjoy together; help out others in your community
- If you feel angry or overwhelmed, take a break and focus on slow breathing for a few mins
- Do regular physical activities such as walking or sports if you can
- Keep in contact with family and friends even when you are apart
- Take a break from the news sometimes
- Talk to someone you trust to be a good listener about how you are feeling. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help from a psychologist or counselor or doctor.
I want to go back to school as soon as possible. What should I do?
Every child has a right to go to school. You do not need any documents and you do not have to pay extra compared to children in Serbia. If you are not going to school right now, the first thing you need to do is get registered for school. Public schools are free. The process for registering to go to school may vary depending on the type of school, you need to go to the nearest school to where you are staying and ask there. If you need help because you don’t speak Serbian, call +381 63 432 499 to find a school that provides language classes.
What else should I know?
If you have documents that show who you are – such as an ID card or passport – it’s important to keep them somewhere safe. Nobody is allowed to take these documents from you or your family, except border guards or police. Nobody is allowed to make you work or ask for sexual favours in exchange for assistance or help of any kind – if anyone does this report them to the authorities or UNHCR. If people you don’t know well offer to take you away from your family to give you a place to stay, for work or school tell an adult you trust and don’t accept these offers. When you need to go out of the place you are staying in, always try to go with someone you feel safe with, or in a group, and after dark always ask a trusted adult to go with you outside your home. If you are in a situation that makes you uncomfortable or you are worried, tell someone you trust and ask for help or call call +381 63 432 499.
Someone has hurt me or someone I know, or I am afraid that they will. What should I do?
No one has the right to abuse, neglect or mistreat any child or your family – not strangers or even parents, relatives, or teachers. If someone has hurt you or touched you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, or if you are afraid that someone will, there are organisations that can help you. Is someone you know has experienced this encourage them to get help. If you contact UNHCR, we will do our best to help you. You can also call UNHCR help line call +381 63 432 499.
REMEMBER that this is not your fault, and you are not to blame. It is important that you receive the support you need. Don’t be ashamed or shy to ask for help. If you have someone you trust, talk to them about it.