Estonian Police and Border Guard Board working with UNHCR to help refugees

  • 2023-08-15
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Police and Border Guard Board Director General Egert Belitsev met with Annika Sandlund, the new head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office for the Nordic and Baltic countries, who is currently visiting Estonia, to discuss the refugee crisis caused by Russia's war against Ukraine.

The parties signed a cooperation agreement aimed at ensuring that the treatment of refugees arriving in Estonia complies with all applicable rights, spokespeople for the Police and Border Guard Board said.

Belitsev said close cooperation with the UNHCR ensures that the activities of the Police and Border Guard Board are in line with fundamental and human rights.

"The Police and Border Guard Board is responsible for the humane treatment of aliens arriving in the country during the period of the procedures. Representatives of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees regularly monitor our activities and we are open to feedback and suggestions on how to address any shortcomings," he said.

Sandlund said that the agreement will improve the protection of refugees seeking asylum in Estonia. She said she appreciates the efforts made by the Police and Border Guard Board to ensure that anyone fleeing war, armed conflict or persecution has the opportunity to seek asylum.

Within the framework of the cooperation agreement, the task of Police and Border Guard Board is to effectively identify people in need of international protection and to ensure their access to Estonian territory and to asylum in Estonia.

UNHCR's monitoring activities focus on the organization of the entry of refugees into Estonia and their access to asylum, as well as their protection from expulsion or return. UNHCR also supports measures that increase the knowledge and skills of officials on refugee law and refugee protection standards.

Under the agreement, UNHCR has the right to monitor the activities of the Police and Border Guard Board in relation to persons in need of asylum, at border crossing points, during asylum interviews and at the accommodation facilities where Estonia places asylum seekers.