28.06.2017 Print

Every time you blink, a person is forced to flee"Every three seconds someone is forced to flee from violence or persecution"

On June, 20 a press conference dedicated to World Refugee Day was held in Minsk

The situation with forced migrants is taking on a new format today. Protection and provision of adequate conditions for the life of refugees in a foreign country require not only medical, financial or educational assistance. The legislative side of the migration process also needs legal regulation. The Representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Belarus Jean-Yves Bouchardy, the Head of the Department for External Labor Migration, Refugees and Asylum of the Department of Citizenship and Migration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus Alexander Tatura, the Head of the Department for Preliminary Investigation and Legal Support of the State Border Committee of the Republic of Belarus Nikolay Boreyko and a Goodwill Ambassador of UNHCR in the Republic of Belarus, singer Iskui Abalyan discussed these and some other issues in the course of the press conference.

Jean-Yves Bouchardy: - A sad reality is that the number of people falling under the UNHCR mandate is constantly increasing. Every three seconds someone is forced to flee from violence or persecution. Half of refugees in the world are from Afghanistan, Syria or South Sudan. Today the number of refugees is about 65 million people. Belarus is one of the countries that provides assistance in helping such people. UNHCR, with the support of non-governmental organizations, supports our country and provides free legal assistance, as well as contributes to the provision and payment of housing for refugees.

Also today the Asylum Systems Quality Initiative project continues to operate, in which the involved structures are called upon to improve the migration space in the region through educational activities. At present, the project covers eight countries.

Alexander Tatura: - Belarus is faced with the need to solve complex tasks related to the reception of persons in need of asylum. Since 2014, due to the events in the south-eastern regions of Ukraine, as well as the ongoing armed conflicts in several Arab countries, there has been an increase in the number of forced migrants who applied for protection to the competent bodies of our country. In 2014, 868 foreigners applied for refugee status or subsidiary protection, in 2015 - 1246 persons, in 2016 - 788 persons, as of June, 19 of this year 232 foreigners applied for asylum in Belarus. Also forced migrants from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and some other countries come to Belarus. I would like to note the contribution of our main partners in the work to protect migrants. The State Border Committee of the Republic of Belarus, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Belarusian Red Cross Society are among them. Thanks to this constructive interaction of partners, conditions have been created in the country for receiving and accommodating persons who need asylum.

Nikolai Boreyko: - Border guard agencies carry out close and constructive interaction with international and non-governmental organizations dealing with issues of forced protection. Thanks to the established cooperation, we managed to achieve positive success in organizing and providing assistance to people forced to seek protection outside their own country. We are obliged to inform all our colleagues about all such persons, so that they can provide them with legal or medical assistance. We often encounter offenders who use Belarus as a transit country. More than 4200 foreign citizens were detained for violation of the law.

Iskui Abalyan: - Acting as a Goodwill Ambassador of UNHCR, I happened to get acquainted with those who are called refugees. In fact, these are people like you and me. But they ran into trouble: they lost their home, many of them lost their families. Such people face many problems: how to survive in a foreign country, how to find a job, and, of course, how to learn an absolutely unfamiliar language. Together with UNHCR, we have been maintaining close cooperation for 4 years trying to draw attention to the problem of refugees.

Participants of the press conference also talked about one of the most important regulations in the field of lawmaking and legislative sphere, which will enter into force on July 1, 2017. In accordance with this legislative act, the procedure for providing protection, as well as for medical care, will be improved for citizens of Ukraine who, during the last three years, account for 80% of all applicants for asylum.

Another key UNHCR activity is education, where special attention is paid to the development of a programme for the study of the Russian language and employment of migrants. As Jean-Yves Bouchardy noted, today not only the authorities, but also various business structures are involved in this humanitarian process.

It should be noted that the most significant innovation of the future standard will be free medical care for adult migrants. It should be recalled that earlier this opportunity could be used only by children, work with whom is of particular importance. As of January 2017, Belarus had about 400-450 refugee children who received refugee status or subsidiary protection.

At the end of the press conference Jean-Yves Bouchardy invited the Belarusians to join the online petition on the website www.unhcr.org and thereby express their solidarity with the refugees.

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