It is crucial for people seeking safety to obtain info on asylum process in BiH during initial registration

Asylum-seekers and refugees arriving in BiH, in need of international protection, require information on key actors and services available in languages they understand.  UNHCR has an info site: HELP.UNHCR.ORG and is finalizing the establishment of a call centre, where people can obtain information on rights, entitlements, and where to access them, as well as their obligations.

“It is crucial for people to have information easily accessible – in different languages – during initial registration by the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs (SFA), especially in times of COVID-19 pandemic”, said Stephanie Woldenberg from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and added “this knowledge of what their rights and obligations need to be tailored to people of different ages, backgrounds, and reading abilities”.

UNHCR advocates for increased support to the Ministry of Security and the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs for registration and screening activities closer to the entry points, but also in locations throughout BiH.  Information collected by front-line officials is essential for referral and follow-up by other State agencies, including, i.e. to the Sector for Asylum for the asylum procedure.

While most people on the move in BiH seek to reach Western Europe, there are some who are seeking safety in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is UNHCR’s job to help the authorities to make sure their asylum claims are registered and processed in a timely manner. While their number is in the hundreds compared to the thousands crossing the country, some of them need better access and more information about the asylum process in BiH”, added Woldenberg.




Stephanie Woldenberg, Senior Protection Officer

Stephanie Woldenberg, Senior Protection Officer, PHOTO: UNHCR/Vanes Pilav

UNHCR has created information packages is providing training and ICT support for SFA inspectors to help them assess the needs of people on the move. The UN Refugee Agency also created information tools for those people that might need international protection in BiH, that are translated, easy to understand, child-friendly, and readily available across many communication channels.

“We can see now in Lipa how important and useful it is when people being registered are also immediately being provided key information in their own languages and immediately referred to the NGO Vaša Prava BiH, which provides free legal aid in the asylum process”, concluded Stephanie Woldenberg.

UNHCR activities in supporting SFA and communicating with communities are co-funded by the European Union Service for Foreign Policy Instruments within the project “Addressing COVID-19 Challenges within the Migrant and Refugee Response in the Western Balkans”.

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