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CRS in Serbia

Serbia is one of the countries to emerge from the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. It has the highest number of internally displaced people in Europe, over 200 thousand. The unemployment rate hovered around 15% at the end of 2016.

CRS works to meet the emergency needs of vulnerable refugees from the Middle East – Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan — and refugees from Asia and Africa transiting or sheltered in Serbia. The country program also provides protection and livelihoods for displaced persons and refugees from countries of former Yugoslavia, assists victims of gender-based violence, ethnic minorities, elderly, children and other vulnerable people who were neglected after the violent breakup of Yugoslavia.


People served: 21,285

Population: 7,111,024

Size: 29,913 sq. mi; slightly smaller than South Carolina

CRS' History in Serbia

Catholic Relief Services opened our office in Belgrade, Serbia, in 1996 in response to the violent breakup of the former Yugoslavia. Responding to this emergency, we offered clothes, food, heating and hygiene supplies to refugees and other marginalized groups.

Once the country began to rejoin the European economy, in 2001, CRS Serbia shifted focus from humanitarian assistance to programs that encourage citizen participation. These programs included education, poverty reduction and building a culture of peace. That work resulted to spin-off organizations that continued to work in this area, as well as a Poverty Reduction Unit within the Government of Serbia.

War and terrorism in the Middle East and declining economies in Asia and Africa shaped Catholic Relief Services' work in Serbia. We provide legal aid and livelihood assistance to refugees and displaced people of former Yugoslavia, many of whom live in legal and financial uncertainty.

CRS works closely with the Government of Serbia to provide emergency assistance to refugees from the Middle East, Asia and Africa who are in transit or sheltered in refugee aid centers in Serbia. We provide medical and interpretation assistance to refugees, shelter and sanitation improvements, food, and cash cards to cover immediate needs for refugees.

CRS in Serbia focuses on partnership with local faith-based partners (Caritas and Philanthropy) and secular NGOs to respond the immediate and long-term needs of refugees and asylum seekers in Serbia.