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Saturday, 1 May 2010

EU: 'Refugees are not parcels'

Cleveland (European Parliament constituency)Image via Wikipedia
Source: Italian Council for Refugees (CIR)

"Refugees are not parcels," said an Afghan asylum seeker speaking about his odyssey in Europe before finally arriving in Italy, which was the country considered responsible to examine his application for protection.

The EU Dublin Regulation that regulates which Member State is responsible for the examination of asylum applications in the EU was the focus of a seminar that presented the findings of the Project Dubliners produced by the Italian Council for Refugees (CIR), together with the Ministries of Interior and the organisations of six Member States.

Through 75 interviews with asylum seekers before and after being transferred from one state to another, the project highlights the serious flaws of the "Dublin system" and the human suffering it causes.

A person affected by the Dublin Regulation told us: "I am a Syrian Kurd. During the Kurdish New Year celebrations I was arrested and imprisoned for six long months. During this time I was tortured, and because of the beatings, I have serious problems in my legs and cannot use my fingers. Thanks to my father, I managed to arrive to Hungary where I applied for asylum. However, I did not get adequate medical treatment there so I travelled to Austria where I had access to the medical care I needed. Unfortunately, after a while my treatment was postponed because of the Dublin Regulation in Hungary”. 

In many states - not in Italy - asylum seekers are detained for months, pending the determination of the country that will be considered responsible to examine the asylum application. Often, asylum seekers don’t receive any information regarding the procedure and their rights.

Officials from Sweden, Hungary and Italy, and representatives of NGOs from these countries and Germany, Greece and Spain highlighted the difficulties in the application of the regulation during this seminar, which was held yesterday 27 April in Rome.

Reforming the Dublin mechanism

EU governments and the European Parliament are currently negotiating a Commission’s proposal to revise the Dublin Regulation.

This proposed reform, opposed by some countries, is supported by CIR and ECRE, the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, as it is considered as a positive first step in improving a system that is currently inefficient, dysfunctional and does not respect the rights of people in need of international protection. The organisations welcome the special attention given to children and other dependent members of the family. In particular, children who have arrived alone to Europe would have to be reunited with their relatives present in other Member States if this is in the child’s best interest.

Further information:
- Dubliners: Research and exchange of experience and practice on the Implementation of the Dublin II Council Regulation Establishing the Criteria for Determining the mechanism and the Member State Responsible for Examining an asylum application lodged in one of the Member State by third country national
- The Italian Refugee Council (CIR) is member of ECRE, the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, and works in defense of refugees and asylum seekers' rights in Italy.
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