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Accelerating protection: UN refugee agency aims for faster protection of the most vulnerable refugees

September 19, 2005

Bucking efforts by many governments to reject asylum-seekers as quickly as possible, UNHCR is trying to use accelerated refugee status determination procedures to provide the most vulnerable refugees protection more quickly.

Over the last decade governments in Europe and North America have developed an array of procedures to screen out asylum applications early in the RSD process, without providing full access to appeals. Procedures to quickly reject “manifestly unfounded application” have attracted criticism by human rights groups concerned that they lack safeguards and deny refugees an adequate opportunity to have their claims heard.

In newly published standards on refugee status determination by its own offices, UNHCR has taken two steps in the opposite direction.

First, UNHCR has directed its offices to refer manifestly unfounded applications to the regular RSD procedure, avoiding the rapid rejection typical in some western countries.

Second, UNHCR’s standards call for accelerated procedures to assess the claims of especially vulnerable asylum-seekers. Categories of applicants eligible for faster processing include elderly and disabled people without access to support, women with special needs, people facing security threats in their host country, unaccompanied children, and torture survivors and traumatized people.

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