The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) [official website] said [press release] Tuesday that new measures put in place by many European countries are too restrictive and place undue hardships on refugees and asylum-seekers. The measures at issue include daily acceptance limits for refugees, daily limits on accepted asylum applications and profiling people in ways that create protection risks. The concern is over buildups at borders and additional pressure on Greece as more people turn to them for assistance. “In order to support a joint approach and to allay fears and potential chaos, States need to inform refugees and asylum-seekers of their procedures, including clear details on the criteria for access to admission, asylum or return, in line with applicable laws, the UN agency said.” The hope is a united approach to helping people who need it, rather than shifting pressure from state to state. The UNHCR also hopes for the development of safer pathways for refugees to maneuver.
The rights of migrant populations has emerged as one of the most significant humanitarian issue around the world, as millions seek asylum from conflict nations. Also Tuesday Amnesty International warned Austria that they are violating human rights through their daily cap on asylum applications [JURIST report]. The country had previously received a warning from an EU official not to go ahead with these plans, stating that any such move would be unlawful [JURIST report]. Earlier this month the German Cabinet approved new asylum laws [JURIST report] in response to the hundreds of thousands of refugees that have entered the country since the beginning of 2015. The bill will speed up asylum procedures and related legal appeals and will bar entry into the country for some asylum seekers’ families for a period of two years. In January Danish lawmakers approved a controversial bill that will allow Danish authorities to seize assets [JURIST report] from immigrants seeking asylum in order to cover their expenses. In December the EU opened an infringement case [JURIST report] against Hungary’s new asylum law and the country’s response to the refugee situation.