Effective Border Management of Refugees and Global Security are Complementary, says UNHCR

On April 5, 2017 in New York, the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee held an open briefing on the challenges asylum seekers and refugees bring to the security of host countries. While the Security Council has called for vetting to ensure that “asylum seekers [have] not planned, facilitated, or participated in the commission of terrorist acts”, many UN member states are unable to properly vet individuals seeking refugee status or asylum due to resource constraints, often resulting in the enforcement of strict border controls to prevent entry of security risks as well as to reduce immigration influxes.

During the briefing, the Assistant Commissioner for Protection presented the stance of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). According to him, managing refugees is better than refusing them because it reduces trafficking of vulnerable persons as well as potential infiltration of security risks into host countries. Simply put, porous borders, or inefficient border management systems put host countries at risk. The office of the UNHCR recommended border management authorities implement biometric systems, proper registration, efficient referral systems, and proper identification processes of individuals at risk of human trafficking. They argue doing so will both improve the safety of refugees and asylum seekers, and host countries. Additionally, the Assistant Commissioner recommended implementing a system to integrate refugees after processing at a host country’s port of entry.

The full text of the Assistant Commissioner’s prepared remarks can be found on the United Nation Counter-Terrorism Committee webpages. 

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