UNHCR would like to strengthen its support to BiH to better profile those who are arriving, to understand their needs at an early stage upon their arrival on the territory.
Asylum is a key component for a coherent management of the mixed movement, in addition of being an important segment of the country’s EU accession process. While UNHCR is focused on asylum, it is also deeply concerned about vulnerable individuals such as children travelling alone, single women, victims of trafficking and others are not identified early on and receive adequate support.
The authorities should have a clear understanding of who is who and what legal pathway and solutions should be provided to them. This would, not only ensure a better protection response but would also help the authorities in managing the safety and security for those arriving individuals but also for the local communities.
UNHCR, together with sister UN agencies and national and international civil society, is involved in the humanitarian response to support the authorities, particularly in providing humanitarian, legal and protection support. Our main mission is to work with the competent authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure unhindered access to the asylum system for arriving people and process asylum requests in a timely manner and in accordance to national and international legislation. Furthermore, it is our mission to help the authorities to integrate those granted international protection with the engagement of local communities.
In practical terms, UNHCR in BiH, works directly in reception centres and engages in partnership with local NGO’s for provision of legal, educational, psycho-social, child protection and other protection aid to asylum-seekers to help alleviate their plight but also to, through direct involvement, identify and support those that are interested in seeking asylum in the country. UNHCR is aiming at bringing more support at an earlier stage of the journey in the country so that individuals who have particular protection needs would be identified in a proactive manner.
Vaša prava BiH, UNHCR’s partner, thanks to the funding from the European Union, assist the authorities in provision of information on access to asylum to those arriving in the country. Country wide, they provide legal advice, in certain cases legal representation to asylum-seekers, and help in other crucial legal matters such birth registrations. So far in 2020, Vaša prava BiH provided legal information to some 9,000 people and representation to some 650.
Our protection partner BHWI, on the other hand, is engaged in three reception facilities in Sarajevo and Mostar and tasked to help the authorities in charge of the centres to provide psycho- social assistance and generally assist the centre dwellers wellbeing including mitigating more sensitive cases of victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking, guardianship of unaccompanied and separated children and other protection risks. Through this direct, everyday work, they are in a good position to identify and refer those people that might need international protection to competent authorities. So far in 2020, UNHCR and BHWI, with the help from of USA’s funding, provided more than 4,000 psycho-social assistances and 2,500 direct assistances to unaccompanied children.
The current influx has overwhelmed existing BiH capacities as the current legal framework is not designed to respond to this influx of new arrivals. In order to regularise their presence in the country, migrants and refugees have no other option but to register their intention to seek asylum although they might not be in need of asylum in BiH. Therefore, thosein real need of international protection and looking for a solution for their plight in Bosnia and Herzegovina do not receive a prompt response to their situation as they are not identified among the whole population going through this initial registration.
UNHCR is now working closely with authorities to strengthen its capacities to better mainstream the various pathways according to the profiles of the migrants and refugees arriving in BiH. In that capacity, we are cooperating with the BiH Ministry of Security by providing more resources thanks to EU funding, and technical support, capacity building, and sharing best practices.
UNHCR is also working with the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees by also providing resources and technical support and capacity building. UNHCR is looking forward to enhance also its support into integration programmes for individuals to whom the authorities would grant international protection.
By Amra Zimic/Bosnia Daily
PHOTO: UNHCR/Vanes Pilav