Leyla Kayacik, special representative of the Council of Europe on migration and refugees | Photo: ANSA/COUNCIL OF EUROPE
Leyla Kayacik, special representative of the Council of Europe on migration and refugees | Photo: ANSA/COUNCIL OF EUROPE

The dire situation of Ukrainian refugees must not detract attention from all those who risk death to flee their countries, Council of Europe special representative on migration and refugees Leyla Kayacik told ANSA in an interview. "The situation of those fleeing Ukraine is extremely serious, but this should not make us forget all the others who are fleeing their countries and who often die in the process," stressed Kayacik.

The Ukrainian refugee crisis should not make us forget about the plight of all refugees, Leyla Kayacik, special representative of the Council of Europe on migration and refugees, has told ANSA.

"The situation of those fleeing Ukraine is extremely serious, but this should not make us forget all the others who are fleeing their countries and who often die in the process," stressed Kayacik, who was appointed to her post in January this year.

Speaking to ANSA on the eve of her participation in a conference scheduled on March 30 in Rome on the evaluation of the age of unaccompanied foreign minors, Kayacik discussed past projects and planned actions over the coming months, also in collaboration with Italy, to help member states respect human rights in managing migration flows.

My attention always focused on refugees from other places, Kayacik

"The war in Ukraine only started a few weeks ago, after the beginning of my mandate, and in light of the situation that it has created, with millions of people fleeing, I have already revised part of my priorities," explained Kayacik.

She said however that this has not reduced her focus on problems connected to flows of migrants and refugees who arrive, or try to arrive, in Europe from other places.

"This new situation that Europe is dealing with is made difficult and complicated by the number of people involved, but at the same time it is easier because the arrival of Ukrainians does not meet with obstacles, it follows legal pathways, and measures are already in place to allow them to move between States and find a job," observed Kayacik.

"Yet, like all migration flows, this too poses a set of challenges and problems, and my role is to select them and offer possible solutions to States," noted the special representative.

"For this reason, I have already held an extraordinary meeting with the network of contacts we have in member States, and who are often people who work in interior ministries," she went on to say. Kayacik added that this first review of the situation needs to be followed by specific visits so decisions can be made on which issues the Council of Europe can bring added value.

Age of unaccompanied foreign minors to be determined in Rome

"Sometimes the work we do can appear theoretical, but the theme of the conference I will attend in Rome shows how concrete its impact can be," observed Kayacik.

The determination of the age of unaccompanied foreign minors is a delicate issue for many states, she explained. "The risk is to adopt methods and procedures that don't respect a person's rights and, if minors are unjustly treated as adults, they risk suffering abuse and trauma," said the special representative.

"With our recommendations and guidelines, we try to prevent this risk, and also for a State to be one day accused of violating human rights, possibly before the Court of Strasbourg", she concluded.

 

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