UNHCR calls on Finnish EU Council Presidency to push for progress in asylum reform

Finland. Pensioner couple take Iraqi girl under their wing

Mona and Kaj are Finnish pensioners who have assumed the role of grandparents for 3-year-old Diana, a refugee from Iraq who arrived on the Finnish island of Nagu in 2015. Diana and her father, Azaldeen, fled Iraq after her mother was abducted.  © UNHCR/Max-Michel Kolijn

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today released its recommendations for the Finnish Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) which starts on 1 July 2019.

“Finland will hold the EU Presidency through a crucial period that includes the formation of a new European Commission, a decisive stretch in the long-term budget negotiations and the adoption of key priorities that will guide the work of the EU over the next five years,” said Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, UNHCR’s Regional Representative for EU Affairs.

UNHCR recommends that the Finnish Presidency focuses on two urgent priorities: building cooperation and solidarity with refugees and host communities and pushing for an effective way of sharing responsibility among EU Member States.  “The EU has a unique opportunity to finally move forward and tackle reforms that are necessary and can be delayed no longer,” Vargas Llosa added.

Until there is progress towards a fair and well-managed protection system, UNHCR reiterates its call for practical and reliable arrangements among Member States to share responsibility for the disembarkation of people rescued in the Mediterranean.

The recommendations also call for the EU to show leadership globally by expanding resettlement and other legal pathways of admission for refugees. UNHCR urges the Finnish Presidency to support a global resettlement strategy developed by UNHCR and partners to reduce the gap between resettlement opportunities and needs. As more legal options become available, fewer people are likely to risk their lives in their search for safety in Europe.

The EU should also continue to lead among humanitarian donors. For this, it is key to keep EU humanitarian funding at high levels, so that there is sufficient financial support devoted to helping those who are forcibly displaced.

A third priority for the Finnish Presidency should be the promotion of efforts across the EU to address statelessness. There are proven ways to identify and protect stateless persons and more Member States should adopt such measures, including those that prevent children from being born stateless.  

UNHCR remains ready to support the Finnish Presidency, the EU and its Member States as they work to enhance solidarity with refugees and the countries hosting them in the EU and globally.

Read UNHCR’s full recommendations for the Finnish Presidency of the Council of the European Union


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