Statement attributed to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi

Prague — I have just returned from the Czech Republic, where I met with government officials as the country prepares to take over the presidency of the European Union (EU) on July 1. It comes at a key time when the EU and its Member States, together with other countries, continue to provide outstanding support to refugees from Ukraine and neighboring host countries, following the unprecedented decision taken in March to activate the directive on temporary protection.

The response to the refugee situation in Ukraine has demonstrated Europe’s ability to adopt an organized and viable approach to asylum, one that benefits states and protects the rights of refugees. The Czech Republic itself generously and efficiently hosted one of the largest populations of Ukrainian refugees in Europe. As such, under his presidency, the country has a unique opportunity to harness this experience and encourage further progress in EU asylum reform.

I am hopeful that the next presidency will build on the good work of the outgoing French EU presidency and the European Commission, which together have helped to take the solidarity statement forward. This voluntary scheme would provide relocation places as well as financial support and responsibility sharing across the bloc with EU member states where most asylum seekers arrive. I am confident that the declaration and any future commitments will help ensure better responsibility sharing for asylum seekers and ultimately better protection for people fleeing war, violence and persecution.

UNHCR encourages EU Member States under the leadership of the Czech Presidency to translate this political commitment into rapid and practical action for those who need it most.

UNHCR remains ready to support the Czech Republic and other EU Member States to continue on this positive path towards a European Union that better protects refugees across the continent and beyond.

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UNHCR’s recommendations to the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU are available here.