Publisher: Le Figaro
Author: Claude Guéant
Story date: 27/11/2011
Le nombre de demandes d'asile politique explose
«Notre tradition du droit d'asile politique est en danger.» Vendredi, à Montauban (Tarn-et-Garonne), après avoir visité un centre d'accueil pour demandeurs d'asile (Cada), le ministre de l'Intérieur, Claude Guéant, a dénoncé les «détournements de procédures» qui, selon lui, saturent la machine administrative, au détriment des personnes qui peuvent légitimement revendiquer le statut de réfugié politique en France. Il a aussi fustigé des «filières organisées» qui prendraient en charge les candidats à l'asile depuis leur pays d'origine, alors que leur demande, essentiellement motivée par des raisons économiques, est vouée à l'échec.
«Le nombre de demandes d'asile a augmenté de 55% ces quatre dernières années et pourrait atteindre les 60.000 demandes en 2011», alerte Beauvau . On trouve au premier rang des demandeurs des ressortissants du Bangladesh, mais aussi des Kosovars. Les révolutions arabes n'ont finalement guère eu d'incidence sur la demande d'asile en France.
L'Hexagone concentre, quoi qu'il en soit, à lui seul «20% de la demande d'asile en Europe». Il se situe, selon l'Intérieur, «à la deuxième place au niveau des pays industrialisés, derrière les États-Unis». Or, précise Claude Guéant, «on assiste à l'accroissement des demandes d'asile infondées». Ce qui se vérifie, dit-il, par la baisse constante des dossiers acceptés: à peine plus de 10.000 statuts de réfugié accordés en 2010, contre 11.500 en 2008. Quand hier l'administration donnait une suite favorable à plus d'un tiers des demandes, elle n'en accepte même plus un quart aujourd'hui.
Le système est totalement engorgé, avec un délai moyen de traitement des dossiers dépassant les 19 mois, soit 3 mois de plus qu'en 2008. Et ce malgré des recrutements conséquents dans les instances chargées de les instruire, à l'Office français de protection des réfugiés et apatrides (Ofpra) et la Cour nationale du droit d'asile (CNDA).
Cette dérive a également un coût: le budget de l'asile a augmenté de 40% en deux ans, dépassant le demi-milliard d'euros en 2011. Du jamais vu depuis que cette procédure existe. Car il faut bien héberger et assister financièrement les demandeurs, logés, pour une large part, dans des hôtels, sachant que les places en centre d'accueil restent limitées à 21.000. Soit trois fois moins que le nombre de candidats.
Les quelque 270 centres d'accueil qui offrent ces 21.000 places connaissent eux-mêmes des situations très contrastées. Certaines plates-formes, comme Angers, Mulhouse, Dijon, sont submergées de demandeurs. Des «filières», parfois «rétribuées», assure Claude Guéant, les y orienteraient parce que le délai d'instruction des dossiers y est forcément plus long. «Il n'est pas normal qu'il y ait 800 demandeurs à Angers et seulement 40 au Mans!», protestait vendredi l'hôte de Beauvau.
Son plan pour sauver la situation se veut radical. D'abord, il va faire ajouter l'Arménie, le Bangladesh, la Moldavie et le Monténégro à la liste des pays «sûrs», c'est-à-dire des pays qu'il n'y a pas de raison a priori de vouloir fuir au titre de l'asile politique.
Pour mettre un terme à la mauvaise répartition des demandeurs, le placement sera géré par le préfet au niveau régional et non plus départemental. Avec 30% de places réservées en province pour accueillir les demandeurs de la région Ile-de-France, notamment, qui concentre 45% des demandes.
Par ailleurs, une loi déposée en janvier permettra d'écarter les demandeurs qui trichent ou refusent de coopérer avec les autorités, comme ceux, par exemple, qui «altèrent volontairement leurs empreintes digitales» pour échapper à une identification.
L'éloignement des candidats rejetés devrait également être facilité. «Les déboutés du droit d'asile sont des étrangers en situation irrégulière comme les autres», déclarait vendredi Claude Guéant. Pour l'heure, un haut fonctionnaire l'affirme: «Que le demandeur obtienne ou non le statut de réfugié, généralement il reste en France.»
Le coût de l'asile franchit le demi-milliard d'euros
Le budget de l'asile politique aura augmenté de 40% cette année, pour dépasser, selon les prévisions, les 520 millions d'euros. Le poste budgétaire le plus élevé concerne l'hébergement des demandeurs d'asile: 334 millions. Un peu moins 40% des personnes sont placées dans des centres d'accueil pour demandeurs d'asile (Cada). Elles touchent alors une allocation mensuelle de subsistance (AMS) calculée selon la composition familiale, les ressources de chacun et les prestations offertes par le centre d'accueil, comme la restauration par exemple. En 2011, l'AMS s'élèvera à 16% des 199 millions d'euros consacrés par l'État au fonctionnement des Cada, soit environ 32 millions d'euros. Ceux qui ne vont pas en centre d'accueil perçoivent une allocation temporaire d'attente (ATA), de 10,83 euros par jour, versée jusqu'à la décision accordant ou non le statut de réfugié. Le versement de cette aide a crû de 126% depuis 2009. Le coût de l'hébergement d'urgence, dans des hôtels notamment, est estimé à 135 millions d'euros en 2011 pour 20.000 places. Il a augmenté
de 85% en trois ans.
Publisher: UNHCR News Story
Story date: 27/11/2011
The Moldovan Post Office issued a special postage stamp on Friday to mark the 60th anniversary of UNHCR's founding and the adoption of the UN Refugee Convention.
The colourful stamp, which has a value of 1.20 Moldovan Leu, depicts a pyramid of human figures covered by the UNHCR protecting hands that form part of the agency's official logo. Fifty thousands stamps have been printed as well as 500 special first-day covers.
It was designed by respected Moldovan graphic artist Vitalie Rosca and is believed to be the only stamp issued by a national post office to celebrate the important landmark for UNHCR, which was founded in December 1950 and has since helped millions of people around the world. It also commemorates the 1951 Refugee Convention, the vital legislation underpinning UNHCR's work.
"We are very pleased to commemorate UNHCR's 60th anniversary with the support of Posta Moldovei and the Ministry of Information Technology and we are very happy that, thanks to this stamp, more Moldovans and people worldwide will become aware of the plight of refugees," Peter Kessler, UNHCR's representative to Moldova, said. The new stamp has attracted interest from collectors and dealers around the world.
The UN refugee agency has a small operation in Moldova, where it works with the government to address the needs of more than 2,200 people of concern. Most of them are stateless, but there are also several hundred asylum-seekers from former Soviet republics as well as Africa and Asia.
With UNHCR's advice and support, Moldova this year prepared legislation on statelessness determination and the integration of foreigners. The UN refugee agency is currently renovating two buildings near Chisinau to provide apartments for refugees under a European-supported local integration project. UNHCR is also providing training to border guards and police to ensure proper application of the 1951 Convention.
Author: By Emma Batha
Story date: 27/11/2011
LONDON (AlertNet) Britain must end the plight of stateless people in the country, many of whom end up living destitute on the streets or locked up in detention centres, asylum experts say.
Stateless people those who are not recognised as a citizen by any country are falling between the cracks after arriving in the United Kingdom, a report by the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR and Asylum Aid says.
The report calls on the government to introduce a robust system to identify people who are stateless and grant them permission to stay where appropriate.
No one knows how many stateless people are living in Britain, but data gathered by researchers suggests their numbers increase by 50 to 100 people each year.
Although they have been told to leave, there is no other country they can turn to for help. They live a shadowy existence, often entirely reliant on friends, acquaintances or charities.
"We urgently need a more humane way for handling people forced into limbo like this," Asylum Aid's director Maurice Wren said.
Without documents, stateless people cannot get accommodation or employment and they avoid going to the doctor if they are sick for fear of ending up in detention. In many cases people have been separated from their loved ones for years, compounding their suffering.
Speaking at the report's launch in London this week, UNHCR's UK representative Roland Schilling, likened being stateless to the severe medieval punishment of exclusion from society.
The report Mapping statelessness in the United Kingdom interviewed 37 stateless people living in cities across Britain. They included people born in Bhutan, Kuwait, Chad, Liberia and Lebanon to name a few.
Of these, 28 had experienced destitution and many had slept rough at some point. A third of those interviewed had been detained for anything from three days to five years.
One person described his condition as being like "a bird with nowhere to rest on the ground, but which can't spend his whole life in the sky". Most spoke of despair, frustration and depression as they watched their life ebb away with no prospect of a future.
"More often than not the people we're seeing are going to go through all the privations of destitution, homelessness and poverty," Asylum Aid's Wren told AlertNet.
"What's particularly worrying is that, because of the British state's confusion around statelessness, it deals with them inappropriately. People are held in immigration detention many for many months where clearly they cannot be removed by virtue of the fact they are stateless.
"It's not only a waste of resources, but the psychological damage caused by detention is immeasurable."
Because there is no procedure for recognising stateless people they often try to claim asylum. But since many are not legally refugees, their claims fail. They are sometimes held in detention pending deportation even when it has been established they cannot be sent anywhere.
Wren said the stories told by the people interviewed raised significant concerns about compliance with international human rights laws and obligations.
"(Britain) should and could do more for a seemingly manageable group of stateless migrants who are left in limbo with nowhere else to go. They should not be left as nowhere people," he added.
The report says three European countries Spain, France and Hungary have procedures for recognising statelessness.
There are around 12 million stateless people in the world, according to UNHCR.
The report is part of the U.N. agency's international campaign to promote action against statelessness around the world as it marks the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
Britain has signed both the 1961 convention and the 1954 convention designed to protect stateless people.
Some of the report's key recommendations:
The United Kingdom should implement an accessible procedure to identify stateless people when they come into contact with immigration control
In appropriate circumstances, this procedure should lead to a stateless person being granted leave to remain in the United Kingdom
The UK Border Agency should amend its guidance on immigration detention to expressly identify an individual's statelessness as a factor that should weigh against detention on the basis that it's likely to indicate there are no reasonable prospects of removal
The United Kingdom should ensure its laws, policies and practice relating to stateless people comply with obligations under human rights law, particularly in relation to access to employment, social assistance and healthcare.
"Between the earth and the sky" the story of Mohammed Alenezi, a Kuwaiti bedoun living in the UK
Statelessness: The world's most invisible people AlertNet multimedia package including stories and videos
Invisible millions pay price of statelessness AlertNet
(Editing by Alex Whiting)
Author: Emma Batha
Story date: 27/11/2011
The one question Nischal dreads is "Where are you from?"
"When people ask me I just can't answer," says the 27-year-old who has asked us to use a pseudonym to protect his identity. Nischal has no family and nowhere in the world to call home.
He is an ethnic Nepali, who was born in Bhutan and has lived most of his life in India. But none of these countries, nor any other, recognises him as a citizen.
Nischal is one of an estimated 12 million people worldwide who are stateless. With no nationality, he has none of the rights or protections most of us take for granted.
He arrived in Britain 18 months ago. He has been told to leave the country, but he has nowhere he can be returned to. He lives in a legal limbo.
With no right to work he is destitute and has been forced to rely on the charity of acquaintances. He has often gone without food and sometimes ended up spending nights alone on the streets.
"I just want a place where I can say, 'This is where I'm from'," Nischal told AlertNet. "I really don't care where it is, but I want an identity saying, 'This is who I am, and this is where I'm from'. It's hard when people ask ... all I can tell them is that I was born in Bhutan."
Nischal is one of 37 stateless people interviewed for a major new report on statelessness in Britain which calls for the government to introduce a proper system for identifying and helping stateless people.
Nischal fled Bhutan with his mother when he was six after his father was killed during ethnic strife between the Bhutanese authorities and the country's ethnic Nepalese population.
They settled in Darjeeling in north India, home to a large ethnic Nepalese community. Although India tolerates refugees from Bhutan, it has never given them the opportunity to regularise their status so they have no rights.
Nischal received a few years' schooling but had to leave at 15 because of his lack of papers. He started working in a small restaurant his mother had set up and continued studying under his own steam.
But as he grew older his lack of ID became more of a problem. He came under increasing pressure from ethnic Nepalese activists in Darjeeling who were demanding a separate state of Ghorkhaland. India was also cracking down on Nepalese Maoists who were entering the country, and Nischal lived in fear of arrest.
After his mother died in 2007 life became harder. He was beaten up and threatened by activists.
"I was harassed. They were abusing me and forcing me to protest and telling me that if I didn't they would say I was a Maoist and they would burn down the business," he told AlertNet.
Alone in the world, he decided to pay a people smuggler to get him out of the country on a fake Indian passport.
"It was a risk, but it was more of a risk to stay in Darjeeling," he says. "They didn't say where they would send me just somewhere in Europe."
His journey ended when a van dropped him in Croydon, south of London, where Britain's immigration offices are based.
ADRIFT AND ALONE
Britain has no formal process for recognising stateless people, so Nischal applied for asylum as a refugee. His claim was rejected. Although the immigration judge who heard his appeal made a finding that Nischal was stateless he was still told to leave the country.
Unable to do so, he was left homeless and penniless.
"I had no place to go, I didn't know anyone and I didn't have any money," he says. "Every day was a problem because I didn't have any money and I wasn't allowed to work."
Desperate not to be a burden, he tried not to remain in any one place for too long.
"I really don't want to overstay with one friend so I just go from place to place," he says. "You get frustrated at times. I've had problems sometimes I haven't been able to sleep for days, I couldn't eat and I got depressed."
If he was given leave to remain, Nischal says the first thing he would do is work. Nischal is fluent in English, and his dream is to study accountancy. Otherwise, he wants to work in a restaurant or hotel and save up to start his own business.
"All I want to do is work," he says. "I just want to live my own life, to be a bit independent. I'm almost 28 now. I'm getting older day by day, but I can't set any goals for the future because what's the use of thinking about it."
A few days ago he was finally given temporary accommodation under a proviso in Britain's immigration act aimed at preventing destitution among failed asylum seekers who cannot leave the country.
But Nischal is still stateless, and there is still no solution in sight.
Refugees Global Press Review
Compiled by Media Relations and Public Information Service, UNHCR
For UNHCR Internal Distribution