GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. refugee agency warned Thursday that asylum is “under attack” at Europe’s borders, calling on countries to investigate and stop illegal pushbacks and expulsions.
The UNHCR said new arrivals to the European Union continue to decline each year, with 95,000 arrivals by sea and land last year — a decrease of 23% compared to 2019 and by one-third compared to 2018, when more than 141,000 arrived.
“With so few arrivals to Europe, this should be a manageable situation,” said UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Gillian Triggs. “It is regrettable that the issue of asylum remains politicized and divisive despite such declining numbers.”
She didn’t specify individual cases, but said the UNHCR had received a “continuous stream of reports” of some countries limiting access to asylum, sending people back after they had reached European territory or waters, “and using violence against them at borders.”
Last month, the European Court of Justice ruled that Hungary’s government hadn’t fulfilled its obligations under EU law to provide international protection to asylum-seekers, prompting the bloc’s border control agency, Frontex, to suspend operations in the country.
The court found that Hungarian officers had continued to push migrants apprehended within its borders into neighboring Serbia, violating EU rules on evaluating asylum applications.