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2015 UNHCR subregional operations profile - Northern, Western, Central and Southern Europe

| Overview |

UNHCR 2015 Northern, Western, Central and Southern Europe subregional operations map

The number of asylum applications received in 2014 in European Union (EU) Member States has risen by 25 per cent compared to the same period in 2013. A quarter of the applicants are of Afghan, Eritrean or Syrian origin, and a similar proportion are under 18 years of age. There have also been many more asylum applications from stateless people, with an estimated total of 436,000 people across the European Union. Germany continues to be the recipient of the largest number of asylum applications, followed by France, Sweden, Italy and the United Kingdom.

In the first seven months of 2014, more than 87,000 people arrived in Italy by sea, mainly from Eritrea and the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria). In an effort to reduce the risks linked to such journeys, in October 2013 the Italian Government launched the Mare Nostrum operation, which has rescued more than 100,000 people. Greece and Spain also recorded an increase in arrivals.

The economic situation in the region has had an impact on the capacity and readiness of many countries to strengthen their protection systems. Austerity measures have also hit civil-society organizations that provide services to asylum-seekers and refugees. Xenophobia and intolerance have led to incidents of discrimination and violence. States have responded by concentrating on curbing irregular movements, including through tighter border controls and detention, or penalization for illegal entry.

UNHCR will build on international and regional law and policy to support States' efforts to find durable solutions for unaccompanied and separated children, who have been arriving in the subregion in large numbers.

The Office continues to be particularly concerned about reports that some EU countries are placing barriers to entry or forcibly returning asylum-seekers and refugees.

In April 2014, the European Union adopted the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, representing a commitment of over EUR 3 billion for the next seven years (2014-2020). A major portion of this fund will be allocated to Member States' national programmes to complement their own domestic budgets, which should help improve asylum systems, reception modalities, and integration policies.

In this context, UNHCR's work in the subregion will also focus on:

  • Assisting and supporting governments to build and maintain fair and efficient asylum and protection systems;

  • Ensuring border management is more protection-sensitive. The Office will promote alternatives to detention. It will also advocate for reception conditions that meet minimum international standards;

  • Promoting responsibility-sharing among EU Member States, complementing the efforts of the European Commission and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO);

  • Promoting community participation and preventing and responding to incidents of sexual and gender-based violence(SGBV);

  • Advocating for more resettlement places and enhancing integration capacity in resettlement countries;

  • Urging States to accede to the 1954 and 1961 UN Statelessness Conventions, improving mechanisms to identify and protect stateless people and preventing and resolving situations of statelessness; and

  • Supporting EU policy-making processes related to people of concern and mobilizing regional political and financial support for UNHCR's work worldwide.

| Response and implementation |

Asylum and protection

In 2015, one of UNHCR's priorities will be to ensure the safeguarding of asylum space. To prevent deaths at sea, the organization will work with European States towards more concerted action. These efforts will be guided by its Central Mediterranean Sea Initiative (CMSI), which includes measures not only within the European Union, but also in transit or first asylum countries, and in countries of origin. The CMSI seeks to strengthen cooperation with relevant stakeholders. Admission practices will be monitored and the capacity of immigration and coast guard officials built, to help prevent refoulement and ensure that those in need of international protection can access territory.

UNHCR offices in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and the United Kingdom will follow up on measures in respect of the Response to Vulnerability project. Standard operating procedures will be instituted in reception centres to respond to incidents of SGBV.

The Office will pursue efforts to build and maintain an effective asylum and protection system. Since 2013, UNHCR and the Government of Albania have worked in close collaboration to ensure the safe arrival of more than 240 former residents of the Hurriya temporary transit location (ex-Ashraf) in Iraq who are in need of international protection, and will continue working on durable solutions for this refugee group.

UNHCR will also work to assure reception conditions and procedures that are adequate for responding to asylum-seekers' specific needs and maintaining their dignity. UNHCR and UNICEF are developing guidance on how States can ensure respect for the best interests of unaccompanied children in Europe.

In line with the organization's global Beyond Detention strategy, rolled out in Hungary, Lithuania, Malta and the United Kingdom, the Office will promote alternatives to detention, as well as the release of children held and improvements in detention conditions.

Monitoring and reporting on national practices will help identify gaps and good practice. The follow-up study to Beyond Proof, which assesses credibility in claims lodged by unaccompanied children, will be completed in 2014 and will require implementation in 2015.

Having analysed the reasons for their movements, UNHCR has started developing a more comprehensive protection strategy for Afghans.

Comments on legislation in the context of the transposition of the asylum acquis, comparative analyses and judicial engagement, will allow UNHCR to contribute to the setting of national and regional legal standards. It will implement quality audit mechanisms and participate in some national asylum procedures, such as those in France, Italy and Spain.

UNHCR will continue to complement EASO's efforts to improve practical cooperation among EU Member States in building asylum systems and improving the quality of country-of-origin information.

The Office will pursue its efforts to identify cases for judicial engagement with national and European courts. It will continue to support the conference of refugee law judges in Germany. Judicial engagement and court interventions will permit UNHCR to ensure the correct application of relevant laws in refugee cases.

UNHCR works closely with civil-society organizations and others involved in refugee protection. Innovative approaches include high-visibility campaigns in public spaces and transport. In 2015, particular attention will be paid to improving social media communication.

Durable solutions

Despite 22 out of 36 countries contributing to UNHCR's resettlement efforts in some capacity, the number of resettlement places for the region remain limited. Special attention will be devoted to resettlement and humanitarian admission of Syrian refugees, and the Office will continue managing the Emergency Transit Centres in Timisoara (Romania) and Humenné (Slovakia).

In order to enhance reception and integration capacities and improve refugees' local integration prospects, the Office will work to raise awareness of the integration challenges facing 1.6 million refugees in the region and to promote good practice in labour market integration, housing and the building of social and professional networks.

Statelessness

UNHCR has launched a 10-year campaign to end statelessness, and will advocate for more EU Member States to accede to the 1954 and 1961 UN Statelessness Conventions. The organization will encourage and support States to adopt national action plans to address statelessness, conduct public awareness activities and advocate for a formal identification and protection mechanism for stateless people be established in countries that lack one.

The Office will continue to advocate for law reform preventing statelessness at birth or later in life, and the facilitation of naturalization. Cooperation with the European Network on Statelessness will continue.

| Financial information |

The budget for the subregion has increased significantly in the past years, from USD 51.1 million in 2011 to USD 68.1 million in 2015, primarily owing to the impact of the Syria Situation and asylum-seekers arriving by boat to the shores of Southern Europe.

The budget for the subregion will however be reduced during the course of 2015 as the operation in Albania will move to South-Eastern Europe within the context of UNHCR's regionalization process in the western Balkans.

Approximately 94 per cent of the 2015 budget is allocated to refugee programmes, with the remaining 6 per cent for statelessness activities.

UNHCR 2015 budgets for Northern, Western, Central and Southern Europe (USD)
Operation 2014
Revised budget
(as of 30 June 2014)
2015
Refugee
programme
PILLAR 1
Stateless
programme
PILLAR 2
Reintegration
projects
PILLAR 3
Total
Total 68,075,927 62,431,037 4,479,646 1,191,163 68,101,847
1. Includes activities in Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, the Liaison Office in Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
2. Includes activities in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and as from 2015, also Croatia.
3. Includes activities in Albania, Cyprus, Greece, Malta and Spain.
4. Includes activities in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania and Norway.
Belgium Regional Office[1] 14,521,916 14,603,538 1,431,980 0 16,035,518
Hungary Regional Office[2] 17,069,083 11,993,641 1,702,007 1,191,163 14,886,811
Italy Regional Office[3] 24,976,188 22,677,175 223,092 0 22,900,267
Sweden Regional Office[4] 5,538,754 4,518,289 965,440 0 5,483,728
Regional Activities 5,969,986 8,638,394 157,127 0 8,795,521

Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2015 Update


UNHCR contact information

Représentant pour la France du HCR
Style of Address Représentant pour la France du HCR
Street Address 46/48 Rue Lauriston, 75116 Paris, France
Mailing Address 46/48 rue Lauriston, 75116 Paris, France
Telephone 33 1 44 434 858
Facsimile 33 1 44 434 861
Website http://www.unhcr.fr
Email frapa@unhcr.org
Time Zone GMT + 1
Working Hours
Monday:9:00 - 18:00
Tuesday:9:00 - 18:00
Wednesday:9:00 - 18:00
Thursday:9:00 - 18:00
Friday:9:00 - 18:00
Saturday:
Sunday:
Public Holidays 01 January 2014, New Year's Day
21 April 2014, Easter Monday
01 May 2014, Labour Day
29 May 2014, Ascension Day
09 June 2014, Whit Monday
14 July 2014, French National day
29 July 2014, Eid Al-Fitr
15 August 2014, Assumption Day
06 October 2014, Eid Al-Adha
25 December 2014, Christmas Day
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UNHCR contact information

Statistical Snapshot*
* As at January 2014
  1. Country or territory of asylum or residence. In the absence of Government estimates, UNHCR has estimated the refugee population in most industrialized countries based on 10 years of asylum-seekers recognition.
  2. Persons recognized as refugees under the 1951 UN Convention/1967 Protocol, the 1969 OAU Convention, in accordance with the UNHCR Statute, persons granted a complementary form of protection and those granted temporary protection. It also includes persons in a refugee-like situation whose status has not yet been verified.
  3. Persons whose application for asylum or refugee status is pending at any stage in the procedure.
  4. Refugees who have returned to their place of origin during the first six months of 2013. Source: Country of origin and asylum.
  5. Persons who are displaced within their country and to whom UNHCR extends protection and/or assistance. It also includes persons who are in an IDP-like situation.
  6. IDPs protected/assisted by UNHCR who have returned to their place of origin during the first six months of 2013.
  7. Refers to persons under UNHCR's statelessness mandate.
  8. Persons of concern to UNHCR not included in the previous columns but to whom UNHCR extends protection and/or assistance.
  9. The category of people in a refugee-like situation is descriptive in nature and includes groups of people who are outside their country of origin and who face protection risks similar to those of refugees, but for whom refugee status has, for practical or other reasons, not been ascertained.
The data are generally provided by Governments, based on their own definitions and methods of data collection.
A dash (-) indicates that the value is zero, not available or not applicable.

Source: UNHCR/Governments.
Compiled by: UNHCR, FICSS.
Residing in France [1]
Refugees [2] 232,487
Asylum Seekers [3] 51,732
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Stateless Persons [7] 1,247
Various [8] 0
Total Population of Concern 285,466
Originating from France [1]
Refugees [2] 98
Asylum Seekers [3] 55
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Various [8] 1
Total Population of Concern 154
Government Contributions to UNHCR
2013 Contributions Breakdown
Total contribution in USD: 24,320,668 [rank: 15]
Total contribution in currency: 2,851,000 (EUR); 20,527,752 (USD)
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 14,000,000 [rank: 9]
Donor ranking per GDP: 29
Donor ranking per capita: 23
2013 Contributions chart
Contributions since 2000
YearUSD
2014
More info21,444,037
As at 8 December 2014
2013
More info24,320,668
Total contribution in USD: 24,320,668 [rank: 15]
Total contribution in currency: 2,851,000 (EUR); 20,527,752 (USD)
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 14,000,000 [rank: 9]
Donor ranking per GDP: 29
Donor ranking per capita: 23
2012
More info23,259,939
Total contribution in USD: 23,259,939 [rank: 14]
Total contribution in currency: 1,969,820 (EUR); 20,768,576 (USD)
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 14,000,000 [rank: 9]
Donor ranking per GDP: 28
Donor ranking per capita: 22
2011
More info25,981,207
Total contribution in USD: 25,981,207 [rank: 16]
Total contribution in currency: 4,065,000 EUR; 20,203,437 USD
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 14,299,450 [rank: 8]
Donor ranking per GDP: 24
Donor ranking per capita: 21
2010
More info20,055,286
Total contribution in USD: 20,055,286 (rank: 17)
Total contribution in currency: 14,485,158 EUR; 487,248 USD
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 13,683,932 (rank: 6)
Donor ranking per GDP: 29
Donor ranking per capita: 25
2009
More info23,209,996
Total contribution in USD: 23,209,996 (rank: 17)
Total contribution in currency: 31,609,195 COP; 17,515,000 EUR; 8,334 USD
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 14,731,110 (rank: 5)
Donor ranking per GDP: 27
Donor ranking per capita: 23
2008
More info23,578,962
Total contribution in USD: 23,578,962 (rank: 17)
Total contribution in currency: 15,701,040 (EUR); 611,891 (USD)
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 15,858,139 (rank: 7)
Donor ranking per GDP: 25
Donor ranking per capita: 22
2007
More info21,139,854
Total contribution in USD: 21,139,854 (rank: 15)
Total contribution in currency: 15,565,000 (EUR); 907,909 (USD)
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 14,310,357 (rank: 6)
Donor ranking per GDP: 25
Donor ranking per capita: 22
2006
More info18,887,354
Total contribution in USD: 18,887,354 (rank: 15)
Total contribution in currency: 14,615,000 (EUR); 841,599 (USD)
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 11,718,082 (rank: 7)
Donor ranking per GDP: 22
Donor ranking per capita: 20
2005
More info13,549,021
USD 13,549,021 [1] of which 8,468,207 (62%) was unrestricted; USD 699,747 (5%) earmarked at the subregional level, USD 2,283,358 (17%) earmarked at the country level, USD 1,051,037 (8%) earmarked at the sectoral / thematic level and USD 1,046,672 (8%) for JPOs.
[1] Includes contributions of USD 13,466,668 from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and USD 82,353 from the Municipality of Vnissieux (the latter towards the South Asia earthquake in Pakistan).
2004
More info11,946,916
USD 11,946,916 of which USD 4,727,921 (40%) was unrestricted, USD 1,834,166 (15%) earmarked at the subregional level, USD 3,399,498 (28%) earmarked at the country level and USD 1,986,330 (17%) earmarked at the sectoral / thematic level.
2003
More info11,848,555
USD 11,848,555 of which USD 4,564,739 (38%) was unrestricted; USD 2,355,713 (20%) earmarked at the subregional level, USD 3,632,446 (31%) earmarked at the country level and USD 1,295,657 (11%) earmarked at the sectoral level.
2002
More info10,711,140
USD 10,711,140 of which USD 3,312,839 unrestricted (31%), USD 4,766,129 earmarked at the sub-regional level (44%), USD 748,231 earmarked at the country level (7%), USD 1,883,941 earmarked at the sectoral level (18%).
2001
More info 8,553,640
USD 8,553,640 of which 3,368,321 (39%) unrestricted and 5,185,319 (61%) earmarked.
2000
More info 8,092,388
USD 8,092,388 of which 3,336,181 (41%) unrestricted and 4,756,207 (49%) earmarked.
Private Sector Contributions to UNHCR
Contributions since 2006
YearUSD
2014
More info 94,335
As at 8 December 2014
2013 17,837
2012 1,671
2011 1,418
2010
More info 185,815

Total contribution in USD: 185,815
Total contribution in currency: 138,321 EUR; 674 USD
2009
More info 0
Figure not available
2008
More info 0
Figure not available
2007
More info 0
Figure not available
2006
More info 0
Figure not available

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Chad Mission Photo Gallery

Chad Mission Photo Gallery

Braving the cold in Calais

Many boys and young men from places like Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Somalia and the Sudan end up in the northern French port of Calais after a long and dangerous journey. Some have fled their countries to escape persecution, conflict or forced recruitment, others are looking for a better life. Calais has become a transit point where people smugglers have established networks to take these men to other European countries. Their makeshift encampments are regularly cleared by the French police, and they sleep most nights out in the open. They live in fear of being arrested or deported. UNHCR's office in Calais seeks to provide the young men arriving in the city with information about their options and the asylum system in France.

Braving the cold in Calais

From Paris With Love, Toys for Syrian Children

Every year, the Quai Branly Museum in Paris organizes a collection of toys from schoolchildren in Paris and, with a little help from UNHCR and other key partners, sends them to refugee children who have lost so much.

The beneficiaries this year were scores of Syrian children living in two camps in Turkey, one of the major host countries for the more than 1.4 million Syrians who have fled their country with or without their families. Most of these traumatized young people have lost their own belongings in the rubble of Syria.

Last week, staff from the museum, UNHCR and the Fédération des Associations d'Anciens du Scoutisme gathered up the toys and packed them into 60 boxes. They were then flown to Turkey by Aviation Sans Frontières (Aviation without Borders) and taken to the kindergarten and nursery schools in Nizip-1 and Nizip-2 camps near the city of Gaziantep.

A gift from more fortunate children in the French capital, the toys brought a ray of sunshine into the lives of some young Syrian refugees and reminded them that their peers in the outside world do care.

These images of the toy distribution were taken by photographer Aytac Akad and UNHCR's Selin Unal.

From Paris With Love, Toys for Syrian Children

Zero-Star "Hotel" that Asylum-Seekers Call Home in Dijon

France is one of the main destinations for asylum-seekers in Europe, with some 55,000 new asylum applications in 2012. As a result of the growing number of applicants, many French cities are facing an acute shortage of accommodation for asylum-seekers.

The government is trying to address the problem and, in February 2013, announced the creation of 4,000 additional places in state-run reception centres for asylum-seekers. But many asylum-seekers are still forced to sleep rough or to occupy empty buildings. One such building, dubbed the "Refugee Hotel" by its transient population, lies on the outskirts of the eastern city of Dijon. It illustrates the critical accommodation situation.

The former meat-packing plant is home to about 100 asylum-seekers, mostly from Chad, Mali and Somalia, but also from Georgia, Kosovo and other Eastern European countries. Most are single men, but there are also two families.

In this dank, rat-infested empty building, the pipes leak and the electricity supply is sporadic. There is only one lavatory, two taps with running water, no bathing facilities and no kitchen. The asylum-seekers sleep in the former cold-storage rooms. The authorities have tried to close the squat several times. These images, taken by British photographer Jason Tanner, show the desperate state of the building and depict the people who call it home.

Zero-Star "Hotel" that Asylum-Seekers Call Home in Dijon

Cold, Uncomfortable and Hungry in Calais

For years, migrants and asylum-seekers have flocked to the northern French port of Calais in hopes of crossing the short stretch of sea to find work and a better life in England. This hope drives many to endure squalid, miserable conditions in makeshift camps, lack of food and freezing temperatures. Some stay for months waiting for an opportunity to stow away on a vehicle making the ferry crossing.

Many of the town's temporary inhabitants are fleeing persecution or conflict in countries such as Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, Sudan and Syria. And although these people are entitled to seek asylum in France, the country's lack of accommodation, administrative hurdles and language barrier, compel many to travel on to England where many already have family waiting.

With the arrival of winter, the crisis in Calais intensifies. To help address the problem, French authorities have opened a day centre as well as housing facilities for women and children. UNHCR is concerned with respect to the situation of male migrants who will remain without shelter solutions. Photographer Julien Pebrel recently went to Calais to document their lives in dire sites such as the Vandamme squat and next to the Tioxide factory.

Cold, Uncomfortable and Hungry in Calais

From the corners of the globe, the displaced converge in northern France

Hundreds of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees have created a number of makeshift camps in northern France. Drawn from a diverse range of countries, the men are hoping that from France they will be able to enter the United Kingdom.

Locals call it, "The Jungle" - a squalid warren of shanties made out of cardboard, plywood and bits of plastic that has mushroomed among the sand dunes and brambles outside Calais. Hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers from such faraway places as Afghanistan, Somalia and Vietnam have traveled for months and over rough terrain to camp out and eventually cross the 34-kilometre stretch of sea that separates Calais from England's White Cliffs of Dover.

Some have family in the UK or have heard that it is easy to get a good job there. Others have been forced to flee their countries because of political, religious or ethnic persecution, and may be entitled to refugee status.

Since early June, the UN refugee agency and its local partner, France Terre d'Asile, have been present in Calais, informing and counselling hundreds of people about asylum systems and procedures in France and the UK.

From the corners of the globe, the displaced converge in northern France

Out in the Cold in CalaisPlay video

Out in the Cold in Calais

Despite the sub-zero temperatures, migrants and asylum-seekers continue to flock to the northern French port of Calais in a bid to reach the United Kingdom across the English Channel. Some are from conflict zones and UNHCR wants to make sure they have access to asylum procedures.