A family at a refugee camp in Germany | Credit: EPA/Tobias Hase
A family at a refugee camp in Germany | Credit: EPA/Tobias Hase

The Dublin Regulation for migrants and asylum seekers keeps families divided, the Danish Refugee Council said in a recent report, calling for reform that addresses this issue.

The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has complained in a recent report that the current Dublin regulation keeps families seeking asylum separated in Europe. The organization said that the rules are implemented in varying manners in different countries and that member states do not always take the best interests of children into account as part of the Dublin regulation. DRC reports that, even though the draft reform of the Dublin Regulation IV includes some improvements for the possibility of family reunification, much remains to be done to ensure the rights of families and children. 

Bureaucratic labyrinth for families 

When asylum seekers enter the European Union, family members do not always end up in the same country. Sometimes they flee at different times, sometimes that get separated along the road or have to take different paths and end up getting stopped at borders, DRC noted. All of these cases result in a separation of the family, which then requires them to face a bureaucratic labyrinth in the attempt to reunite. The report details some case stories, such as that of an 18-year-old Syrian man who came by boat to Greece, when he was 17 years and wanted to reunite with his older sister in Germany.

"The Greek authorities did not manage to send the request to Germany before he turned 18 years, so Germany refused to accept him, because they did not grant him the special guarantees of a minor and because they did not agree to accept the man due to humanitarian reasons," DRC noted. 

Reform to protect families 

"Families who have been forced to flee their home country and who have fought for their life, must often also fight for their right to family life in Europe by challenging the decisions of Member State authorities - a fight that many families do not win. The protracted appeals procedures along with burdensome administrative procedures result in families having to wait for months before they are allowed to reunite - and in many cases, they do not end up together," says Eva Singer, Head of the Asylum Department at the Danish Refugee Council.

Although the current proposals for a new Dublin IV Regulation include some good initiatives for families' opportunities to reunite, there is still plenty of room for further improvements, Singer stressed. "With the reform of the Dublin III Regulation, we therefore call for a Dublin IV Regulation, which ensures that families are kept together and that the best interests of the child are always taken into account when Member State authorities make decisions based on the Dublin Regulation," she added.

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