UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, has called for a sweeping reform of the European Union’s refugee policy.
In a paper titled “Better Protecting Refugees in the EU and Globally” that was presented to European officials on Monday, UNHCR called on Europe to offer strategic and targeted support to countries of origin, asylum and transit of refugees, to improve its response to major arrivals and to install a more efficient asylum processing system.
The organization also called for greater investment by EU governments toward integrating refugees, including offering accommodation, employment and language training.
“Last year, Europe failed to implement a collective, managed response to the challenges posed by the arrival of over a million refugees and migrants,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said.
“This resulted in scenes of chaos at borders, leading to a breakdown in the public's trust in the capacity of governments to manage the situation and playing into the hands of those who wanted to turn refugees into scapegoats,” Grandi said, adding that Europe should help stabilize refugee flows over the long term through more strategic external engagement.
The UNHCR proposals include a unified European registration system, faster and simplified asylum procedures, a common policy on unaccompanied and separated children, a distribution mechanism for fairer burden-sharing among member states and an efficient system for returning individuals who are not in need of protection to their countries of origin.