Wednesday, September 27, 2017

UN calls on EU to continue relocation of refugees beyond deadline

UN calls on EU to continue relocation of refugees
The UN refugee agency on Tuesday urged European Union (EU) member states to promptly relocate all asylum-seekers eligible under the bloc's emergency relocation scheme and for it to continue beyond the two years originally planned.

Pascale Moreau, director of UNHCR's Europe bureau, said the scheme has proven to be of vital importance in easing the refugee pressure on Greece and Italy, and has improved the lives of many seeking protection. She expressed hope that the plan could continue beyond the Sept. 26 deadline.

Under current conditions, only asylum-seekers of nationalities with an average recognition rate of 75 percent or higher at the EU level are considered eligible for relocation.

The UNHCR has previously called for a review of this criteria and for the threshold to be lowered to allow for more people likely to be in need of international protection to be included.

Swift relocation, including fast registration and transfer of candidates, is particularly crucial for unaccompanied and separated children, who sometimes still are in poor living and security conditions in Greece and Italy, the UNHCR said.

In September 2015, EU member states agreed on a two-year plan of relocating 160,000 asylum-seekers in total, including 106,000 from Greece and Italy, to other European countries to ease the pressure on frontline states.

Up to Sept. 22, 2017, 47,905 places were formally pledged by EU states, with 20,066 asylum-seekers relocated from Greece and 9,078 from Italy, in which the UNHCR will continue its efforts.

The UNHCR reiterates its call for a robust asylum system that ensures access to territory and efficient asylum procedures, as well as for properly allocation responsibility among EU member states, even in exceptional circumstances.

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