The precautionary measures taken in view of the COVID-19 situation have triggered the suspension of international resettlement of refugees from non-EU countries to Europe.
In this context, as the face-to-face interviews/information provision to refugees used for selection missions or pre-departure orientation training cannot be implemented for the time being, two virtual meetings were organised by EASO on 7 and 13 May to explore alternatives to keep resettlement operations active.
The discussions presented the opportunity to share ideas on how both dossier submissions and remote interviews can become a more permanent feature of resettlement programmes in the future, as both seem to be effective in assisting countries reach their resettlement goals.
The EASO Resettlement & Humanitarian Admission Network, in cooperation with IOM and UNHCR, organised an online workshop on resuming resettlement operations despite the COVID-19 outbreak.
The worldwide suspension of resettlement operations has also had the immediate implication of halting all EASO-facilitated resettlement missions from the Resettlement Support Facility in Turkey.
EASO has prioritised work assessing how the remote processing of cases could be undertaken. Such innovations were already of interest to various countries prior to the COVID-19 situation. Compounded by the current circumstances, several Member States have recently indicated a pressing interest for this measure.
As a result, EASO has developed and discussed a Concept Note outlining the different options available for running remote missions. This includes holding remote interviews with refugees from the Resettlement Support Facility itself or from other decentralised locations.
EASO expects to pilot one of these options at the earliest opportunity with one or several Member States, to assist them in achieving their resettlement objectives despite the challenging times.