Afghans constitute the second largest refugee population in the world with 2.6 million Afghan refugees registered globally. After almost continuous armed conflict since 1978, many of these individuals are in a ‘protracted refugee situation’ having been in refugee camps for over 40 years without access to what the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) calls ‘durable solutions’ (resettlement, return or local integration – see UNHCR Global Trends Report 2018 p.22 and 27). However, the recent escalation in the crisis in Afghanistan has seen the numbers of people being displaced reaching over 330,000 since the start of this year, according to UNHCR. Numbers of newly displaced persons are expected to rise to 500,000 over the coming weeks.(more…)
By Prof Elspeth Guild, Queen Mary University of London and Kathryn Allinson, Research Assistant, Queen Mary University of London and Teaching Associate, University of Bristol.
The spectre of the Covid19 pandemic has stalked political leaders, at local, regional, national and European levels since mid-January 2020. In amongst the myriad responses that States have taken to combat the spread of the virus those relating to refugee protection make grim viewing. The scenes at the Turkish Greek land border where the President of the Commission, the President of the European Council, the EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs were present to witness, and applaud, the violent actions of the Greek border guards and military in preventing people seeking to cross from Turkey to the EU to seek protection is exemplary of the approach of many States. And it did not help the image of the EU in these exceptional times, as a place where refugees are welcome and provide protection in accordance with international law.
This unedifying political spectacle addressed towards the Turkish President and intended as a response to his responsibilities came at a most problematic time. EU states were within a week of closing internal and external borders to movement of persons with little regard to the needs of refugees. In this blog we will examine the subsequent efforts of the EU (and associated countries including the UK) to comply with their obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention, in particular, as regards the processing of asylum applications. (more…)