UNHCR proposes 10 Point Plan of Action for Eastern and South Eastern borders of EU

Thursday 26, July 2007 Reconciling border control with refugee protection Budapest, July 26 (UNHCR) – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees issued a Ten-Point Plan of Action to ensure the protection of refugees along the Eastern and South Eastern border of the European Union. EU Member States Bulgaria, Hungary, […]

Thursday 26, July 2007

Reconciling border control with refugee protection

Budapest, July 26 (UNHCR) – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees issued a Ten-Point Plan of Action to ensure the protection of refugees along the Eastern and South Eastern border of the European Union.

EU Member States Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia as well as the neighbouring countries of Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine share many similar challenges with regard to mixed population movements. The Plan therefore proposes a cooperative approach across the region to make sure that the requirements for strict border management and controls are not in conflict with providing protection to refugees.

The 10-Point Plan for the Eastern and South Eastern border of the EU is issued one year after a similar document relating to migration flows in the Mediterranean/Atlantic region was published. Both papers have been positively received by governments and partner organisations.

UNHCR’s Regional Representative in Budapest, Lloyd Dakin says, that no country can resolve the problems on its own. ‘Those are mixed migratory movements that are often facilitated by smuggling and trafficking networks and can only be addressed in a concerted regional effort.’

The 10-Point Plan proposes a number of actions to prevent both forcible returns of asylum-seekers to a country where they are persecuted as well as irregular onwards movements. It is a key requirement that asylum seekers have access to fair and efficient asylum procedures and humane living conditions.

The plan calls for border management systems that are differentiated enough so asylum seekers are processed separately from illegal migrants as early as possible. They should not be detained unduly and those who have special needs (minors, persons with health problems, victims of trauma, etc.) should be treated accordingly.

Dakin says that UNHCR is ready to work closely with Governments of the Region, the European Union and its institutions, IOM, the OSCE, the Söderköping Process and all other relevant stakeholders.

The 10 Point Plan sets out ten areas where the UN refugee Agency believes that coordinated actions could have a positive impact. These areas are: cooperation with key partners, data collection and analysis, protection-sensitive entry systems, reception arrangements, mechanisms for identification and referral, differentiated processes and procedures, solutions for refugees, addressing secondary movements, return arrangements for non-refugees and alternative migration options and information strategy in countries of origin, transit and arrival.

Melita H. Sunjic in Budapest, Hungary