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As it often does when the presidency of the EU changes, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) addressed recommendations to the Latvian Presidency of the EU Council. Under the heading “The CEAS at a crossroads: Consolidation and implementation at a time of new challenges. UNHCR’s recommendations to Latvia for the EU Presidency January – June 2015”, the UN agency identifies three priority areas for the upcoming six months:
- Protection at sea: UNHCR recommends strengthening search and rescue operations, to improve reception conditions for rescued people and to guarantee that they have a swift access to efficient asylum procedures.
- Access to territory: people in need of international protection at the EU’s external borders must be given access to territory and asylum procedures; this means setting up a border management respecting human rights and ensuring the respect of the non-refoulement principle.
- Transposal and implementation of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS): the UNHCR insists on the necessity to ensure a full and effective transposition of the new legislation by Member States before 21 July 2015. In this context, it wishes that close attention be given to “vulnerable” people, including minors. It also notes that the new CEAS must enable to react quickly and efficiently to a possible increase of asylum applications.
- Increase of legal alternatives for admission to the EU of people in need of international protection: the UNHCR indicates different options: “resettlement, intra-EU relocation, facilitated family reunification […], community-based private sponsorship, humanitarian admission, humanitarian visas, student visas for refugees, and refugee-friendly labour migration schemes”.
- Ending detention of asylum-seekers: it must only be used as a last resort; alternative solutions should be preferred.
- Protection of unaccompanied minors and individuals with specific needs: the UNHCR advocates setting up trainings on how to deal with victims of torture or human trafficking and women who have undergone or may undergo female genital mutilation. It also indicates that it is necessary to establish mechanisms that are adapted to unaccompanied minors in order to best identify their protection needs.
- Integration of people in need of international protection.
- Ending statelessness: UNHCR recommends encouraging Member States who have not yet acceded to the “Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons” to do so, and fostering the action of all Member States to reduce cases of statelessness, in application of the 1961 Convention.
- Humanitarian assistance for forcibly displaced people (refugees and internally displaced persons) must be accompanied by an approach that promotes sustainable solutions for forcibly displaced populations.
AEDH can only approve UNCRH’s recommendations and hope that they will be integrated into the Latvian Presidency’s programme, even if those issues were not included among the priorities that it presented to the European Parliament on 12 January.
Read UNHCR’s recommendations.
To learn more about the legal alternatives for people in need of international protection, read the document “Legal Avenues to Safety and Protection through Other Forms of Admission”, published by UNHCR in November 2014.