KYIV. On 26-27 May, a final conference of the Asylum Systems Quality Initiative in Eastern Europe and South Caucasus Project gathered migration officials from ten countries in Kyiv to discuss achieved results and plans for future collaboration.

KYIV. On 26-27 May, a final conference of the Asylum Systems Quality Initiative in Eastern Europe and South Caucasus Project gathered migration officials from ten countries in Kyiv to discuss achieved results and plans for future collaboration. Enhanced training for government asylum officers, the creation of a research database in Russian and the development of quality assurance tools are key achievements of the regional project that has improved the refugee system in Ukraine.

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The two and a half year project, funded by the European Union and co-funded and implemented by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, was designed to strengthen the protection of asylum-seekers and refugees in six countries in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. With a 2.5 million euro budget, the project focused on improvement of the quality, fairness and efficiency of asylum decision-making in the participating countries.

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Through more than 100 regional conferences, joint trainings, study visits and individualized training events, the initiative helped the participating countries to address the most important weaknesses and enhance practical cooperation on asylum matters. “Over last two and a half years the project has achieved significant improvements and contributed to the protection of asylum seekers in the region. The mix of implemented activities represents an excellent combination of practical and more strategic objectives, which can serve as a show-case for other initiatives,” highlighted Mr. Karoly Soos,  Rule of Law and Law Enforcement Sector Manager at the EU Delegation to Ukraine.

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The participants benefited from active engagement with four EU Member States: Germany, Poland, Romania and Sweden. European experts have provided good practice advice and shared their vast experience with the relatively new asylum systems in the region. Migration officials from Eastern Europe received access to several training modules developed for EU Member States by the European Asylum Support Office. Translated into the Russian language, these capacity building tools can be easily accessed and used by new staff and other countries.

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The launch of the Russian version of Refworld (www.refworld.org.ru), the largest online database of key documents relating to refugee status determination, has helped to satisfy a demand for the latest, in-depth and impartial data about the situation in countries of origin. Asylum officials now have, free of charge, access to comprehensive and unbiased information to assist them in analyzing asylum applications.

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Since December 2013, more than 10,000 documents in Russian have been uploaded to the website, including a vast collection of reports, policy guidance, position papers, along with decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, European Union asylum acquis and relevant national legislation. A number of thematic pages in Refworld with information on Children; Gender Equality and Women; Caselaw of the European Court of Human Rights; Refugee Protection and International Migration; Refugee Status Determination; and the UN Human Rights System, are also useful for a wider audience including human rights activists, judges, academics and researchers.

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Following a joint survey of the national asylum system, Ukraine has committed to build on existing strengths, to bridge gaps and to develop quality assurance mechanisms. «We are grateful to the EU and UNHCR experts not only for their assistance in supporting activities of the State Migration Service but also for their assessment of reforms that took place within last few years. The State Migration Service are looking forward to extend further cooperation with our counterparts, as international expertise in building asylum system is imminent,” said Head of the State Migration Service of Ukraine Sergiy Radutniy.

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“We hope that this positive dynamic will continue. By establishing efficient and transparent asylum procedures, we can ensure that more people in need can reach safety and protection,” highlighted Mr. Jean-Noel Wetterwald, UNHCR Head of Operations a.i., Ukraine.