11 July 2014

A UNHCR report published today explores Europe’s response to the plight of Syria’s refugees. While welcoming the expressions of solidarity beyond legal obligations by some European countries, UNHCR expresses concern about troubling border practices, inadequate reception conditions, backlogs in asylum procedures, barriers to family reunification, the lack of mechanisms to identify and assist asylum seekers with vulnerabilities or specific needs and excessive use of detention. UNHCR underlines that detention of refugees from Syria is reported in Cyprus, Greece, Hungary and Malta.

UNHCR welcomes the commitment of 17 European countries – Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland – which offered over 31,300 places for resettlement, humanitarian and other forms of admission for refugees from Syria in 2013 and 2014.  

UNHCR calls on States to make commitments to provide resettlement and other forms for admission such as privately sponsored admission schemes, family reunification including for extended family members and the creation of scholarship for Syrian students.

As part of the effort to help Syrians to join family members who are residing in the EU, UNHCR welcomes the programme implemented by German states (Länder) to admit privately sponsored Syrians with relatives in Germany. The programme allows the admission of extended family members provided their families in Germany commit to covering the transport and living costs for their relatives for the duration of their stay in Germany. 5,000 people have benefited from this programme.

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 11 July 2014.
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