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UNHCR appeals to the EU for protection-sensitive measures

Briefing notes

UNHCR appeals to the EU for protection-sensitive measures

2 June 2009 Also available in:

In advance of the European Union (EU) Justice and Home Affairs Ministers on 4-5 June, High Commissioner António Guterres is calling on the EU and its Member States to ensure that migration control measures do not undermine fundamental rights of asylum seekers and refugees. In a letter addressed to the Czech EU Presidency last week, Mr. Guterres expressed concerns about the situation of persons intercepted at sea in the Mediterranean and the responses of governments to this, including those of Italy.

The High Commissioner called for EU support to Libya to improve the general conditions for asylum seekers and refugees in the country. He appealed to EU Member States to admit those who appear to be in need of international protection.

UNHCR recognizes the challenges which irregular migration poses both to North African and southern European countries. UNHCR would welcome further EU support for its work, but emphasizes that its activities cannot be a substitute for State responsibility. For that reason UNHCR continues to call on EU countries to offer resettlement places for refugees who are currently without solutions in Libya and other countries where durable solutions are not available.

The High Commissioner is aware that some EU Member States, and particularly those located along the Mediterranean, face particular pressures from the arrival of asylum-seekers and refugees. UNHCR is prepared to support responsibility-sharing mechanisms within the EU, including some relocation of people found in need of international protection, when reception and asylum systems in specific Member States are under strain. At the same time it is important for EU Member States to redouble their efforts to improve asylum facilities and procedures, as part of the effort to build a Common European Asylum System.