Regional project enhances capacity of the asylum system in Armenia

On 26-27 May, a final conference of the Asylum Systems Quality Initiative in Eastern Europe and South Caucasus Project gathers migration officials from ten countries in Kyiv to discuss achieved results and plans for future collaboration. Enhanced training for government asylum officers, the creation of a research database in Russian and the development of quality assurance tools are key achievements of the regional project that has improved the refugee system in Armenia.

The two and a half year project, funded by the European Union and co-funded and implemented by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, was designed to strengthen the protection of asylum-seekers and refugees in six countries in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The participants benefited from active engagement with four EU Member States: Germany, Poland, Romania and Sweden. With a 2.5 million euro budget, the project focused on improvement of the quality, fairness and efficiency of asylum decision-making in the participating countries.

Following a joint survey of the national asylum system, Armenia has committed to build on existing strengths, to bridge gaps and to develop quality assurance mechanisms. “The progress in Armenia since the gap analysis report was prepared is notable. In particular, the authorities have developed draft legislative amendments to close gaps in the legal framework; have with UNHCR support adopted 7  Standard Operation Procedures to ensure procedures are consistently applied in line with international standards and have introduced a new staff position to undertake country of origin information research,” said Mr. Christoph Bierwirth, UNHCR Representative in Armenia.

Through more than 100 regional conferences, joint trainings, study visits and individualized training events, the project helped the participating countries to address the most important weaknesses and enhance practical cooperation on asylum matters. The EU Member States have provided good practice advice and shared their vast experience with the relatively new asylum systems in the region. Migration officials from Eastern Europe received access to several training modules developed for EU Member States by the European Asylum Support Office. Translated into the Russian language, these capacity building tools can be easily accessed and used by new staff and other countries.

The Head of the Migration Agency of the Ministry of Territorial Administration of the Republic of Armenia, Mr.  Gagik Yeganyan, highly appreciated the international engagement in the regional project: ‘’The international experience and support have been crucial in the future development of the asylum system in Armenia’’, he said.