UNHCR has recommendations for Bulgaria’s EU Presidency

Written by on December 18, 2017 in Europe - Comments Off on UNHCR has recommendations for Bulgaria’s EU Presidency

The United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) released recommendations for an asylum reform in the European Union. The UN agency mainly addressed Bulgaria, since the country will take over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union on January 1 2018.

Pascale Moreau, the UNHCR’s Director of the Bureau for Europe, said this was a critical moment. A strong EU Presidency was needed “that paves the way for ensuring a well managed asylum system in the EU, including more solidarity among all EU Member States.”

Two priorities are important to the UNHCR, according to a statement released on Monday:

1. The agency wants the EU to assess protection needs more effectively.

2. Among EU member states, there should be more solidarity and responsibility-sharing.

Regarding the second priority listed by the UNHCR, several EU member states have rejected the implementation of any allocation formula. For any country in charge of the EU Presidency, improving the situation in this regard would be a challenge.

“A robust EU asylum system that ensures access to the EU’s protection space and efficient asylum procedures, and which is capable of a fair allocation of responsibility for asylum-seekers among EU Member States, also in exceptional circumstances, is the only long-term equitable solution for all states concerned and for refugees,” Moreau said.

The agency believes that increasing the number safe and legal pathways to Europe is of importance. The EU should be planning more effectively, in order to be able to respond to changes in arrivals, it says in the UNHCR’s statement.

Also, the UN agency wants systems to better protect refugee children. A few months ago, data from Bulgaria showed that a substantial percentage of arriving refugees were unaccompanied minors.

Another point the UN refugee experts are making is that more should be invested into the integration of refugees in Europe.

Photo at top of page by the Italian coastguard, Massimo Sestini.



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