News

Gender Based Violence Working Group to revise the SOP

10 May 2019
Gender Based Violence Working Group

Belgrade, 9 May - The 9th meeting of the Working Group on Gender Based Violence, chaired by the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs and co-chaired by UNFPA Country Office in Serbia took place on 9th May 2019, at the premises of the UN Country Offices in Belgrade. The Working Group members from government, civil sector and international organisations active in issues concerning migrants, asylum seekers as well as gender equality and GBV, gave an overview of the current situation in the field. Particular focus was paid to updating the Standard Operating Procedures on Gender Based Violence (SOP-GBV) in line with the newly adopted legal framework in Serbia.

Since the creation of the SOP-GBV, a number of relevant laws have been revised or newly adopted in Serbia. For example the Law on Prevention of Family Based Violence has been applied in the past two years, which allows for its interpretation based on established legal practice. The Law on Asylum and Temporary Protection, Law on Foreigners, the Law on Border Control and other laws adopted in 2018 are also relevant legal documents that will be considered when revising the SOP. 

During the meeting members of the working group shared information about each organisation’s activities with vulnerable populations and pointed to the outstanding needs and gaps in humanitarian response provided in Serbia, as well as gaps in research and understanding of integration issues.   

“Cooperation, synergy, exchange of experience between government and non-governmental organisations is the key strength of this working group. In the past two years we have seen positive developments coming from the group, and the SOP being used as a reference for all of us working with vulnerable groups in Serbia” highlighted Mrs. Jelena Šurlan from the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration. 

The Group has been meeting regularly since September 2017, as a response to the high influx of refugees and migrants, with up to 12,000 entering the country on a daily basis in previous years, mainly 2015/2016. Today Serbia is not in a state of emergency regarding migration issues, however there are still between 100 and 200 persons entering the country on a daily basis. Current data show that there are 3098 persons in Serbia, which includes just over 800 asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Bangladesh residing in established refugee camps across Serbia (official data from the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration).

The overall objective of this WG is to consolidate UN Country Team development and humanitarian actions between all humanitarian and development actors. Started as a an emergency response to the migration crisis, the group has now widened its scope to encompass all types of gender based violence, and will furthermore advocate for the employment of a human rights based approach to these issues.

Regular coordination and planning meetings will continue to be held based on the situation and need in the country, to exchange information on national level, identify gaps and review GBV protection programming and advocacy work, and to develop protection work plans that address GBV concerns in Serbia.

As one of the United Nation’s lead agencies working to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment and to address the causes and consequences of gender-based violence, especially its effects on sexual and reproductive health, UNFPA leads or co-leads gender-based violence coordination mechanisms in 97 countries.