PACE calls for ‘hotspots’ outside Europe to process asylum applications – and save lives

PACE has given its backing to the creation of “hotspots” to process asylum applications outside Europe – in order to identify people needing international protection before they undertake dangerous sea journeys.

“The idea of identifying people in need of international protection and organising external processing of asylum applications through hotspots set up outside Europe deserves support, provided the human rights of refugees and migrants are guaranteed,” the Assembly said in a resolution. “It would certainly contribute to saving the lives of many potential candidates who would otherwise attempt to cross the sea.”

Debating a report by Daphne Dumery (Belgium, NI), the Assembly also called for a European border guard system, expanding the mandate of the EU’s border agency Frontex – including to enable it to organise return operations – and more action to disrupt smugglers’ networks.

In the meantime search and rescue operations should be continued, with much greater support for Greece and Italy to create large-scale emergency facilities, and a “permanent mechanism” set up to relocate refugees arriving on their shores to other European countries.

The Assembly also called for a centralised register and unified procedures to record and identify the dead, with a view to tracing missing persons.

Over the longer term, states should increase access to legal migration channels to Europe and do more to tackle the root causes of the crisis, the parliamentarians said.