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UNHCR-OSCE Training on Refugee Protection for Afghan and Tajik Border Officials

Dushanbe, 19 May 2014

The UNHCR Representation in Tajikistan and the OSCE organised an inter-agency training on refugee protection in border management for officials from Afghanistan and Tajikistan, which took place in Dushanbe from 12-16 May.

During the five-day event, twenty-six officials — representing border agencies and select Ministries from Tajikistan and Afghanistan — examined topics such as safeguards for asylum seekers at border points; screening and referral mechanisms; refugee status determination standards; and border management in emergencies. Principles of non-refoulement (no forced return) and non-penalisation of irregular entry, in addition to the basic obligation of States to keep borders open in the event of refugee influxes, were stressed throughout the event.

The Tajik Border Troops initially requested that the OSCE organise a training event on refugee and asylum-seeker issues. Upon consultation with UNHCR, the OSCE responded positively to the request, noting the importance of including refugee issues in capacity-building events for border management officials. This latest UNHCR-OSCE initiative builds upon a rich history of institutional collaboration in the Republic of Tajikistan.

In addition to providing Afghan and Tajik officials with practical training, the event facilitated cross-border information exchange and the discussion of current border management systems. Sessions focused on practical approaches to enhance existing border management systems, with a view to providing protection for persons fleeing armed conflict, human rights violations and persecution.

Taking into account ongoing political, security and economic transitions in the region, the event emphasised the importance of preparedness for possible refugee flows and the need to establish protection-sensitive border management systems.

“UNHCR recognises, however, that States in the region have legitimate national security concerns, which must be considered when discussing international protection obligations,” noted Kevin J. Allen, UNHCR Representative in Tajikistan. “Accordingly, this and other UNHCR initiatives promote balanced approaches to ensure access to asylum and the protection of refugees, whilst preserving effective border controls.”

The Dushanbe event was facilitated by experts from UNHCR and the OSCE, as well as the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) provided technical expertise for relevant sessions.






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