UN agency to cooperate with Europe on standardised protection for refugees

UN agency to cooperate with Europe on standardised protection for refugees

Internally displaced Iraqi girl
The United Nations refugee agency hopes that a new European Union (EU) asylum system due to be announced tomorrow will ensure more consistent decision-making across the 27-nation block, where asylum-seekers of similar backgrounds now have widely varying chances of finding protection in different member states.

The European Commission is due to publish proposals to set up a European Asylum Support Office for the bloc, where UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) research has shown that asylum-seekers from countries such as Iraq, Somalia or Afghanistan face prospects from as low as zero to over 90 per cent depending on the state in which they lodge their application.

“In some cases, people in need of protection are not recognized as such, due to the narrow approach taken by some states to key issues, such as protection needs faced by people in situations of generalized violence,” UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond told a news briefing in Geneva today.

“UNHCR believes that a European Asylum Support Office would strengthen practical cooperation and the sharing of good practice among member states. This should help to narrow differences between member states’ approaches to the application of EU asylum legislation and ultimately result in more consistent, fair and effective asylum systems across the EU.”

Mr. Redmond said possible UNHCR cooperation with the new office could include providing the services of experts, contributing to comparative analysis of the practice of states, or offering expertise regarding conditions in asylum seekers’ countries of origin or countries through which they travelled.

“Based on UNHCR's supervisory responsibility regarding implementation of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, we are well placed to help the EU and the future support office to ensure that the Common European Asylum System develops in line with international refugee law and high standards of protection,” he added.