Access to asylum, integration of refugees and increased support for vulnerable asylum-seekers were at the forefront of a three-day visit of UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs to Bosnia and Herzegovina that concluded today.
During her mission the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection visited reception facilities in the Una-Sana and Sarajevo Cantons which host asylum-seekers and migrants, including families and unaccompanied children. She also met with key Ministers, relevant local authorities, partners and stakeholders as well as individual asylum seekers and refugees.
“I have very much appreciated the open and constructive discussions held with the authorities at all levels, as well as with UN, civil society partners and key donors. I encourage the authorities to pursue the effective and efficient implementation of the national asylum system in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The early identification of protection needs, and vulnerabilities can help facilitate the management of mixed movements and lead to an appropriate response for this population” said Gillian Triggs. UNHCR stands ready to support this process.
In recent years, Bosnia and Herzegovina has experienced substantial migratory pressure which has put a strain on the country’s reception capacity as well as on the asylum system. “Unaccompanied and separated children, survivors of gender-based violence and LGBTQI+ people have specific needs and may require safe accommodation and services outside of large and crowded reception facilities”, said Gillian Triggs. Within this context we call upon the authorities to designate additional accommodation facilities. Shared responsibility among different regions of the country could alleviate the pressure on the local communities of the most impacted Cantons.
Access to asylum remains one of UNHCR’s key concerns, as those interested in seeking asylum in the country experience multiple challenges in accessing the registration of their claim. Further, people who eventually receive international protection in Bosnia and Herzegovina require support to integrate by acquiring the necessary skills and competencies which will enable them to become active and contributing members of their new communities.
At the Global Refugee Forum (GRF) in December 2019, Bosnia and Herzegovina made several pledges aimed at enhancing the efficiency of the national asylum system, addressing gaps in the legal framework, and facilitating the integration of refugees. UNHCR has been supporting the implementation of these pledges, providing advice and assistance to the authorities. UNHCR also works with the authorities towards reaching the country’s commitments at the High-Level Segment to improve birth registration, develop a statelessness determination procedure and end statelessness by 2024.