EU Says Asylum Seekers in Need Must Get Welfare

     (CN) – European countries must provide welfare to asylum seekers regardless where the application for asylum was filed, Europe’s highest court ruled.
     France balked at a European law requiring countries to provide third-country nationals seeking asylum in the EU with housing, food and clothes, particularly those who applied for asylum elsewhere and moved to France. In 2009, the Conseil d’État decided it would stop paying the temporary tideover allowance to immigrants who applied for asylum in another European country.
     Two humanitarian organizations – Cimade and GISTI – sued, claiming France’s decision violated Europe’s requirements to care for asylum seekers. The EU Court of Justice ruled that European countries are obliged to care for immigrants, regardless of where the application for asylum was made.
     European law aims to “ensure full respect for human dignity and … those requirements apply not only with regard to asylum seekers present in the territory of the member state responsible pending that state’s decision on their application for asylum but also to asylum seekers awaiting a decision on which member state will be held responsible for their application,” the Luxembourg court wrote.
     The obligation to care for asylum seekers extends to wherever the immigrant travels within the EU, not only where he or she applied for asylum, according to the court. And the obligation begins from the moment the asylum application is lodged, to protect basic human rights and dignity.
     “[T]he asylum seeker may not … be deprived – even for a temporary period of time after the making of the application for asylum and before being actually transferred to another Member State – of the protection of the minimum standards laid down by that directive,” the court wrote.
     The court noted that the country’s obligation to the asylum seeker ceases when he or she is granted asylum and transferred to the member state that approved the application. The entire process is usually completed in a year, according to the court.
     The high court added that in the cases of major migration flows, member states are able to access the European Refugee Fund for assistance in dealing with the tide over allowances.

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