Global programme “Migration for Development” (PME), as a part of the “Returning to New Opportunities” initiative funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), supports economic and social (re)integration of returnees and local population/ potential migrants. The Programme is implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, National Employment Service and Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia, thus building synergy with local institutions, various programmes and initiatives and civil society organisations across Serbia.

The ongoing cooperation between this Programme and the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration (KIRS) has been established in 2018 when the Memorandum of Understanding was signed. The aim of this cooperation is to improve returnees’ access to different services, such as support in obtaining personal documents, information on employment opportunities, training and job-seeking prospects in Serbia, referral to commissariat offices, namely migration councils and other services in local governments for further assistance and potential primary or urgent reception of returnees at the KIRS Urgent Reception Centre.

The COVID-19 virus pandemic required the activities and approach to be adjusted to the newly emerged situation. Therefore, to enhance the quality of services and support targeting these vulnerable groups, the PME Programme promptly organised support to its partners, primarily to the Commissariat as the first point of support in the return and reintegration process.

Provision of support to returnees was particularly difficult in the current situation in which face-to-face work of the commissioner for refugees and migration with beneficiaries was not possible. This is why the PME Programme provided the necessary IT equipment, namely 30 laptops, five for the KIRS Office and 25 for the commissioners in local government units where the largest number of returnees has been registered. This equipment will enable more adequate monitoring of the data on returnees, but also provide support in their everyday work. The commissioners will receive training on the software use, which will facilitate their efforts in relation to the returnees’ data collection, entry and processing.

The IT equipment awarded will contribute to the use of the readmission process monitoring software, upgraded at the beginning of this year with the PME Programme support. This made the existing database on returnees accessible online to the commissioners for refugees and migration in all Serbian towns and municipalities. Owing to this database upgrade, they are provided with a better insight into the number and structure of the returnee families in their municipal territories, same as with an overview of their needs.

In line with the recommendations of competent institutions, mitigation of measures and gradual re-establishment of airline traffic following the revocation of the state of emergency, KIRS engaged in preparations for the re-opening of the Readmission Office at the “Nikola Tesla” airport in Belgrade. Given that safety of all staff working at the Office and of the returnees comes first, the PME Programme provided them with hand and space disinfectants, masks and gloves.

In addition, to facilitate delivery of activities and access to data collected in various ways and entered into the software to the Belgrade airport Readmission Office, KIRS and local commissioners, the PME Programme provided licenses for the Team Viewer application. This software enables the IT department to render remote assistance to the airport Office and commissioners at the local level, which is particularly important in extraordinary circumstances, like the Corona virus pandemic.

At the same time, in order to contribute to the more efficient readmission process management, monitoring and identifying the needs of the returnees in the field aimed at their better integration, the PME Programme supports development of a new KIRS website. It will enable the returnees and other beneficiaries an improved access to information concerning the services available and measures during the pandemic.