MINSK, 17 June (BelTA) – Some 895 people applied for the refugee status in Belarus in 2018, Representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Belarus Jean Yves Bouchardy told the media on 17 June, BelTA has learned.
“In 2018 alone, a total of 895 people applied for protection in Belarus. The majority of them are nationals of Ukraine, Afghanistan and Syria. This is some 150 people more in comparison with the number in 2017. Through cooperation with Belarusian NGOs, the UNHCR provides them with legal advice, assistance regarding social matters and finances, and also help in finding accommodation and covering healthcare costs,” Jean Yves Bouchardy said.
In his words, Belarus is implementing the project “Asylum Systems Quality Initiative in Eastern Europe and South Caucasus” aimed at enhancing the quality of asylum systems in the region. The focus is on improving professional skills of specialists in forced migration. Forced migration pertains to such countries as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. “The project also envisages regional and interregional events important for improving the level of asylum systems by joint efforts,” Jean Yves Bouchardy said.
According to him, such assistance should target the most vulnerable categories of population. “I am happy that this year we, with the assistance of our partner, the Belarusian Red Cross, and in association with the Embassy of the United States in Belarus, have completed the project to open a crisis center in Grodno. This facility provides help to sexual and gender violence victims. I believe that we have developed a good preventive mechanism and enhanced the quality of work in this area,” said Jean Yves Bouchardy.
Another important area of the UNHCR activity is statelessness matters. “The number of stateless persons in Belarus exceeds 6,000 people. In 2017 and in 2018 we conducted the comparative analyses of the Belarusian legislation and the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and found no significant obstacles to the accession of Belarus to the two documents. In this regard, the UNHCR hopes that Belarus will eventually take a decision to accede to the two conventions and thus make a great contribution to the UNCHR decade-long campaign to combat statelessness designed to run till 2024,” he said.
He drew attention to the importance of the international conference on statelessness, which was organized in Minsk last year in cooperation with the Internal Affairs Ministry of Belarus and the CIS Executive Committee and brought together on the UNHCR staff, representatives from the CIS, the non-governmental organizations and independent experts specializing in statelessness issues.More about Society