Operations in Central Europe
Over the past years, the economic situation in Central Europe has significantly worsened due to the global downturn. This resulted in shrinking gross domestic production and rising unemployment rates. Governments in the region, therefore, often prioritize economic and financial issues at the expense of asylum and migration questions and interpret their obligation to provide assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers, including proper reception conditions and facilitation of integration in a more restrictive manner. Ongoing efforts to reduce irregular migration, including smuggling and trafficking, as well as increasingly strict border control and migration management systems continue to make it difficult for asylum-seekers to enter EU territory and have access to asylum procedures.
Most countries of the region have a good record in the treatment of asylum-seekers and refugees. However, minority groups, in particular Roma communities, tend to face discrimination and are often targeted by racist and xenophobic groups. A remaining challenge is to shape the attitude and raise awareness of the public in order to eliminate xenophobic sentiments towards refugees and migrants. The detention of asylum-seekers, sometimes in sub-standard conditions, is on the increase.
The number of stateless people is relatively small in the region by global comparison, therefore the issue is not perceived as a priority by politicians and NGOs.
Strategy and activities
UNHCR is carrying out the following activities in the Central European region:
As one of its priorities, the UN Refugee Agency cooperates with governments and civil society partners in monitoring the external land borders of the EU to ensure that all asylum-seekers have effective access to territory and asylum procedures. UNHCR also assists governments in improving their asylum-decision-making and refugee status determination procedures as well as in developing a sustainable internal review mechanism to be able to maintain good quality.
UNHCR is drawing attention to the impact of reception conditions on the subsequent integration of refugees' and regularly monitors the living standards in reception centres and detention facilities. The UN Refugee Agency also carries out an Age, Gender and Diversity strategy every year to monitor and detect remaining protection gaps and respond to the specific needs of refugees and asylum-seekers. It works to establish refugee advisory or consultative fora in collective reception facilities, where they do not yet exist.
UNHCR in Central Europe advocates for services that enable asylum-seekers to achieve self-reliance and develop the skills that later facilitate their local integration as a refugee. The organization also advocates for proper and efficient policies and encourages governments to review their educational, health, social welfare and employment legislation to better respond to the needs of displaced people and improve their access to basic services, equally to their citizens. UNHCR also reviews procedures on sexual and gender-based violence and seeks to facilitate family reunification through policy change for all those in need.
In Central Europe UNHCR advocates for the establishment of small-scale resettlement programmes and provides advice on best practices. The UN Refugee Agency assists Romania and Slovakia in protecting refugees in need of resettlement in the Emergency Transit Centres(ETCs) by co-financing the management of the establishments and providing expert advice. It closely monitors the resettlement and relocation activities in order to identify good practices and shortcomings that need to be addressed.
Under its mandate to protect stateless people, UNHCR lobbies for the introduction and development of national legislation on the rights of stateless people and of the administrative frameworks where they are not yet in place. A priority is urging governments to accede to the two Statelessness Conventions if those are not yet party to one or both of them. UNHCR monitors the process of identifying stateless people and providing them with access to public services as well as works on a coherent regional protection strategy to address gaps and shortcomings.
UNHCR in Central Europe works to prevent and cease the unlawful detention of asylum-seekers and monitors the conditions of detention and access to free legal assistance for any who is detained.
As a cross-cutting activity, UNHCR in Central Europe engages in advocacy, public information and capacity-building with various governmental and civil society partners.
|UNHCR budget for Central Europe (USD)|
for Central Europe