Ad-Hoc Query on Reception and Care of Vulnerable Applicants for International Protection with Special Reception Needs
22 (Member) States provided information regarding their definition of the concept of vulnerability and their practices regarding the identification and the care of vulnerable applicants for international protection with special reception needs.
The Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (Fedasil) is conducting a study on vulnerable applicants for international protection with special reception needs. The aim of the study is to establish a detailed picture of the practices in the field relating to the identification of vulnerabilities and special reception needs, and the extent to which the particular needs of vulnerable persons within the reception network are taken into account in a general sense.
In this framework, the Belgian National Contact Point (NCP) of the EMN launched two ad-hoc queries in March and April 2018 respectively.
The queries collect information from the Member States regarding their definition of the concept of vulnerability and their practices regarding the identification and the care of vulnerable applicants for international protection with special reception needs.
22 (Member) States, including Belgium, provided an answer to Part I and Part II of the ad-hoc query.
Some of the main findings
The survey shows that the identification of persons with special reception needs is done on an ad hoc basis. Only a limited number of countries indicate that they have a procedure laid down in legislation that provides for the identification of vulnerable applicants with special reception needs. In other countries there are provisions for certain groups of vulnerable persons, but there are no identifying mechanisms included in the legislation to assess who has special reception needs. Still other countries have no provisions in the legislation, but have developed guidelines to assess whether an applicant has special (medical) needs that affect reception and care.
In most countries, initial identification of vulnerability takes place immediately or shortly after applying for international protection. This mainly concerns an identification of the most visible vulnerabilities. Some countries indicate that the initial identification and/or the continuation of the identification takes place in the reception structure and that more than half of the countries surveyed state that identification is a continuous process that must be continued throughout the international protection procedure. In most countries, medical examinations are a very important tool in the identification of vulnerabilities and special needs. Consequently, the identification by the medical staff plays a crucial role in the identification of vulnerabilities and we can speak of a medicalisation of the notion of vulnerability.
There are striking similarities between the countries with regard to the challenges and obstacles for a good identification and follow-up of vulnerable applicants with specific needs. It concerns a shortage of adapted reception places, a capacity shortage among external service providers, a lack of time to do a thorough identification or follow-up of vulnerable persons, language barriers and cultural differences that contribute to the fact that it is difficult to raise certain sensitive issues even if the employees are trained, and the difficulty to build up the necessary trust.
More detailed information can be found in the summary (produced by the Belgian NCP in collaboration with Fedasil) and the compilation of the answers of the 22 (Member) States (available above).