The Committee of Ministers have adopted an Action Plan on Protecting Vulnerable Persons in the Context of Migration and Asylum in Europe (2021-2025). “Migrants and asylum seekers face particular challenges, in the Covid-19 pandemic, notably access to healthcare and vaccinations. We are increasing cooperation among member states to protect the most vulnerable persons”, said Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić.
The action plan aims at addressing main challenges and opportunities identified since the previous Action Plan, focusing on children, completed in 2019. The lessons learned, along with discussions with member states and within the Council of Europe, revealed the need for further action and co-ordination in a wider scope. The European Court of Human Rights as well as Council of Europe steering committees and monitoring bodies have emphasised the special protection that states need to provide to vulnerable persons in the context of asylum and migration. In the new action plan, “vulnerable persons in the context of migration and asylum” are persons found to have special needs after individual evaluation of their situation and are entitled to call on states’ obligation to provide special protection and assistance.
“This action plan proposes a targeted assistance package for the Council of Europe member states to enhance their capacity to identify and address vulnerabilities throughout the asylum and migration procedures linked to adequate reception conditions, access to information, legal aid and to justice. It also promotes the support for child refugees in their access to education and young refugees in their transition to adulthood,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees, Ambassador Drahoslav Štefánek.
The action plan relies on four pillars: three based on the core mandate of the Council of Europe – human rights, democracy and the rule of law – and one transversal pillar focuses on co-operation:
- ensuring protection and promoting safeguards
- ensuring access to law and justice
- fostering democratic participation and enhancing inclusion
- enhancing co-operation between migration and asylum authorities in Council of Europe member States
The Special Representative on Migration and Refugees, Drahoslav Štefánek, is tasked to co-ordinate the implementation of the Action Plan inside of the Organization and with member states while securing the effective engagement with external key partners. The Action Plan is scheduled for implementation from 2021 to 2025.
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