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    Migrants on a dinghy are rescued by Save the Children NGO crew from the ship Vos Hestia in the Mediterranean sea off Libya coast, June 17, 2017

    EU Needs to Sync Up Rescue at Sea Solution And Asylum Claiming - UNHCR Official

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    PARIS (Sputnik) - An EU "regional approach" to the rescue of migrants at sea, with a focus on responsibility sharing, should be synchronized with a speedy process for filing asylum claims and relocation to other EU states, Charlie Yaxley, communications officer for the UN refugee agency in Europe and Asia (UNHCR), told Sputnik.

    "A regional approach conducted in the spirit of solidarity and responsibility sharing, upholding international norms and laws is something we would welcome. But it has to be done in the spirit of harmonized, united approach to saving lives. So, it has to go hand in hand with a mechanism in place for those who are found in need of asylum. So, first of all, they would maintain speedy and strong access to making asylum claims," Yaxley said.

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    The UNHCR official added that these two activities should take place at the same time as the relocation of migrants and refugees to EU member states, "with increased settlement places and other safe and legal pathways for those in need of asylum."

    Yaxley stressed the need for clear procedures for disembarkation of rescue vessels carrying migrants.

    "Primary aim should be the establishment of very clear procedures of where the boat should disembark. There is no certainty around that. Once it’s there, there also needs to be a standard, which has to be up to international standards – what I mean is sufficient health care, food, and water for what’s likely to be a very vulnerable population," he said.

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    The UNHCR spokesman added that the people leaving boats should have access to legal aid as well and be able to file an asylum claim without fearing that they would be immediately sent back to their country of origin.

    Yaxley said that any disembarkation center would have to be the responsibility of the states that host them.

    "We have to point out that responsibility for running these centers will continue being the responsibility of the states [hosting them]. They will be responsible for running any disembarkation sites, their obligations will remain intact," the spokesman said.

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    Earlier on Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron said that rescue at sea was the responsibility of the country in the proximity of those in need of aid. Macron added, however, that the European Union could share the responsibility for the centers, citing the example of one such center on the Greek island of Lesbos.

    On Thursday, the European Council agreed on several aspects of migration policy, including the establishment of "regional disembarkation platforms, in close cooperation with relevant third countries" and controlled centers in EU member states. The resettlement or relocation across the European Union is expected to be done on voluntary basis.

    The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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