UNHCR releases new resource on asylum processing
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has released a new resource for states on asylum processing. Titled ‘Effective Processing of Asylum Applications: Practical Considerations and Practices’, the paper consolidates best practices to support national asylum systems with expedient and quality processing of asylum cases, as many are facing increasing caseloads and mounting backlogs, owing to rising forced displacement, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even in 2020, despite a historic drop in applications due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions, there were still almost 1.3 million individual asylum applications received in national asylum systems. While this was much less than the almost 2.2 million applications received in 2019, asylum systems still struggled with the additional challenge of operating in the context of a public health emergency.
In some cases, the convergence of these events led to temporary suspensions of asylum systems, long backlogs of pending asylum applications and asylum seekers being unable to effectively access protection.
The new UNHCR resource provides advice on measures that can be put in place, including through the increased use of remote and digital technologies, to ensure efficiency in national asylum procedures, benefitting both countries of asylum and individuals in need of international protection.
It illustrates best practice and good examples initiated by national asylum authorities - in countries with advanced asylum management practices - to ensure effective processing of asylum applications, while upholding key protection principles and due process standards.
With robust structures in place, States will be well placed to effectively tackle existing backlogs whilst also responding to new arrivals in a context of increasing forced displacement.