Regional Meeting on Migration and Asylum
On 11-12 October 2001, the Zakarpattya Regional State Administration of Ukraine and UNHCR Branch Office for Ukraine jointly convened a Regional Meeting on Migration and Asylum in Uzhgorod. The meeting aimed to present the actual situation in the border region and promote co-operation on asylum and migration related issues between Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine with possible establishment of more continuous dialogue among the authorities at regional and central levels of the three neighbouring countries.
The meeting was attended by central and regional authorities from Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine, representatives of the Embassies of Belgium as the EU Presidency, Germany and Sweden, the Hungarian and Slovak Consulates in Uzhgorod, as well as by representatives of UNHCR HQ and Branch Offices from the three countries, the EC, and IOM.
The first day gave a practical presentation of the situation at the border in light of the rather high number of irregular migrants being apprehended at the borders. Visits to a detention centre for irregular migrants and an NGO centre for apprehended women and children gave participants a vivid understanding of the problems.
The second day was devoted deliberations. In their presentations country representatives underlined a need for border management strengthening, including initiatives on capacity building in the field of asylum between the countries involved, and a need for increased possibilities for experience exchange and joint training for border- and migration service staff. The development of bilateral agreements between migration services of various countries on training and information exchange was proposed as a means to improve co-operation among bordering countries.
Based on the outcome of the discussions, the participants concluded that:
a burden-sharing strategy would be needed focusing on the situation in the countries which would soon become EU neighbours;
the institution of asylum should not be jeopardised in the context of fight against irregular migration, but further improved with common efforts;
the need for international assistance persisted, but co-ordination among the individual countries to fit into a more general plan would be needed;
to follow up on the issues discussed and take steps to more regular co-operation, similar tripartite initiatives would be hosted in other countries involved, including some training (e.g. on interviewing techniques, the refugee status determination procedure and access to country of origin information) and study visits;
UNHCR offices would perform a co-ordination role in the very beginning of the process, which would be later taken over by the national authorities.