UNHCR: Dublin asylum regulation not aiding children and families

Information offered to refugee families is often ‘incomplete, outdated or not available’

Exhausted migrants in the waiting hall of the train station in Bardonecchia, Italy. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Exhausted migrants in the waiting hall of the train station in Bardonecchia, Italy. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images


The agreement that dictates which EU country is responsible for asylum applications is not being implemented effectively and is failing to help families in Europe seeking to reunite, the UN has said.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) warned on Monday that the The Dublin III regulation introduced in January 2014 was not being applied in “a consistent and coherent manner”. The consequence is that member states and asylum seekers have lost trust in the system.

The refugee agency, which carried out a study of the system across Europe in 2016, warned that information being provided to men and women applying for asylum in the EU was “often either incomplete, outdated, or simply not available”.

Fair manner

The Dublin III regulation was introduced to determine the EU member state responsible for dealing with an application for international protection. Under the regulation the decision of where an asylum seeker could apply for protection in Europe was to be carried out in an objective and fair manner, taking into account the interests of the member state and the applicant.

The regulation has the potential to assist in reuniting families within the EU, said the refugee agency. But their latest study shows restrictive family definitions have been preventing family members from reuniting and that family tracing is not being carried out properly.

It also warned that the application process is taking an “excessive length of time” and that only a minority of transfer decisions actually result in transfers to the responsible member state.

The refugee agency has recommended that information on the regulation should provided to all asylum seekers, including children and illiterate applicants. It also called for effective co-operation between member states to ensure children are reunited with family members as quickly as possible.

Declared dead

The charity recommended that detention only be used as “a measure of last resort” and that children not be detained for immigration-related purposes.

Some 2,011 men, women and children seeking asylum have already arrived in Europe through Spain, Italy and Greece so far in 2018. An estimated 173 people were declared dead or missing in the first two weeks of the year.

In 2017 a total of 171,332 asylum seekers arrived in Europe by crossing the Mediterranean, down from 362,753 in 2016. The majority of the 2017 arrivals came from Nigeria, Syria, the Ivory Coast, Guinea, Morocco and Bangladesh.

The most popular month for travel was in June when 27,886 people arrived in Europe by sea.