The Hague // Study visit of Bosnian asylum and migration experts

A delegation of asylum and migration experts from Bosnia and Herzegovina visited The Netherlands between 13 – 17 April, marking the first ever study visit that combines all relevant migration authorities and a prominent asylum & migration NGO in one visiting group. The cooperation between Dutch and Bosnian migration experts goes back a long way and includes both bilateral and multilateral initiatives, ranging from improving the legislative framework on asylum and migration to strengthening the operational capacities of the institutions involved.

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The Dutch-Bosnian Matra CoPROL project that was launched last year revolves around improving the operational handling by the different stakeholders, exchanging good practices, and promoting the chain approach in asylum and migration management. The visit to the Netherlands was structured with this set-up in mind. The visiting group comprised of the Bosnian Service for Foreigners’ Affairs, the Asylum and Immigration Sectors of the Ministry of Security, the Border Police and the NGO Vaša Prava. In meetings with their Dutch peers it became quite clear, that in their efforts to manage migration countries struggle more or less with the same challenges: how to come to a humane practice of return for asylums seekers who have been rejected residence status?; how can you identify vulnerable groups?; and how can you alleviate the difficult and harsh conditions in which asylum seekers find themselves?

The visit took the delegation cross country from the border control units at Schiphol Airport to the largest application centre that facilitates asylum, reception and repatriation procedures in Ter Apel, the accommodation centre in Katwijk, the Dutch Council for Refugees in Amsterdam, and the Ministry of Security and Justice in The Hague. The working meetings provided the opportunity to discuss specific operations, like the age determination of asylum seekers who don’t carry travel documents, the rationale behind labour migration, and ways to facilitate the migration of knowledge workers for scientific research or intra corporate transfers, while preventing labour exploitation.

The most important upshot of the visit was the understanding about the interconnectivity of all chain actors. It is of utmost importance to have all partners in the asylum and migration chain link up well. If one chain partner strengthens its capacity and achieves a higher output, then the rest should also scale up.

The first next steps in the project will focus on reception conditions and strategies to mitigate changes in migration influx, and the development of a referral mechanism for the asylum and migration partners in Bosnia and Herzegovina. An overview of the planning can be downloaded here.

The project Further strengthening asylum and migration management in Bosnia and Herzegovina is funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs under its programme on Cooperation with Pre-accession Countries on the Rule of Law (Matra CoPROL).

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