The majority of worlds' refugees flee to neighboring countries. Many of them end up in developing countries, where they often do not receive adequate protection for years.
Europe must play an active role in improving refugee protection in regions of origin and regions of transit, to share the responsibility for these people more fairly with the host countries. ECRE believes that the key elements of effective protection are:
The guarantee of non-refoulement, as the essence of refugee protection and part of customary law, is, in this context, the first essential step towards ensuring protection is available.
Refugees must enjoy all their civil and political rights and not only rights such as freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or the right to life.
Economic, social and cultural rights are essential to the enjoyment of protection and other human rights. States restricting the economic rights of refugees are not providing them with protection that is effective.
The right to legal protection (including access to a legal status and necessary documentation) should last for as long as international protection is required and until a durable solution ensues, to which new legal protection rights would be attached.
Particular attention should be given to the needs and rights of vulnerable groups, including women, children, the disabled and older persons, in accordance with the relevant international human rights instruments.
Refugees should have timely access to a durable solution. States should play a leading role in the development of comprehensive strategies for durable solutions and European states should increase the availability of resettlement in Europe.
In 2005 the European Commission funded and established Regional Protection Programmes (RPPs). The main goals of the RPPS are to enhance the protection capacity of third countries and to better protect the refugee population in these countries by providing durable solutions for refugees.
In its Policy Plan on Asylum the European Commission has announced that the RPPs will probably be expanded to other regions of transit and origin. Whilst ECRE welcomes the focus of these programmes on protection rather than the management of migration flows, until there has been a proper evaluation of the RPPs it is difficult to gauge any added value they might bring.
► Europe should play a more active role in improving refugee protection in regions of origin and regions of transit
► European states should help to improve the ability of these countries in regions of origin to support refugees through training and technical and financial assistance.
► EU funding mechanisms should more systematically support such activities.
► Governments in these regions should also be encouraged to sign up to and comply with international and regional treaties respecting the rights of those fleeing violence and persecution.