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Prishtinë/ Pristina, 10 July 2020 – The Heads of UN Agencies reiterate that asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants, need to be included in the institutional health responses.

Today, the representatives of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, IOM, the UN Migration agency, and UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund Office in Prishtinë/ Pristina visited asylum-seekers at Asylum Centres in Magurë/ Magura, Lipjan/Lipljan and Vranidoll in Prishtinë/ Pristina municipality to assess their situation.

The visit to Asylum Centres was attended by Mr. Erol Arduç, UNHCR Chief of Mission, Ms. Anna Rostocka, IOM Chief of Mission and Mr. Murat Sahin, UNICEF Head of Office in Kosovo.

They were briefed by representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Public Administration, and of Asylum Centres about the care and services provided to asylum-seekers. At present, there are 83 asylum-seekers in Kosovo, of which eight women and 13 children.

This year, 803 persons, of which 85 women and 120 children claimed asylum though most of them left Kosovo after applying for asylum.

However, not all who arrive to Kosovo claim asylum. Those migrants who do not claim asylum are not eligible for accommodation in the existing reception centres and often live in squatter areas, on the streets or in overcrowded apartments used by smuggling networks which puts them at a very high risk of exploitation and abuse.

Chief of UNHCR Mission in Kosovo, Mr. Erol Arduç, said that “Everyone, including refugees and asylum-seekers can contribute to society. Their integration into society is important as they bring with them their skills.” Solidarity with asylum-seekers, refugees is part of a more inclusive world; we are visiting them to show that we stand with them during the corona crisis, added Mr. Arduç.

Ms. Anna Rostocka, IOM Chief of Mission, said that “IOM is standing in solidarity with migrants, supporting authorities and other stakeholders in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the spread of COVID-19, the situation of migrants, particularly those with irregular migration status, is becoming even more challenging and demands urgent actions to ensure their protection and safeguard their rights”. Migrants shall have access to reliable and accurate information as well as essential services including healthcare”, she added.

Mr. Murat Sahin, UNICEF Head of Office in Kosovo, said that “Migrant children are subject of a continuous high risk as consequence of their separation from parents, physical and emotional abuse, neglect and exploitation. UNICEF is joining forces with UNHCR and IOM to support migrant and refugee children and their families with immediate response related to COVID-19, and to build an effective system to protect their rights according to UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and international protection standards”.

During the visit, Heads of UNICEF, IOM and UNHCR also had a possibility to meet individuals and families which are faced with many challenges, more so during the current pandemic situation.

The Heads of UN Agencies observed that the needs of people on the move, refugees and migrants are many. They reiterate that asylum seekers, refugees and migrants, need to be included in the institutional health responses.

UNICEF, IOM and UNHCR in Kosovo work closely on protection of those most at risk, children, women, asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants.

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