FRA visited the newly established ‘hotspots’ for asylum-seekers in Lesbos (Greece), Lampedusa and Trapani (Italy), as well as a centre in Sicily which processes asylum seekers participating in the EU’s relocation scheme. He also visited Berlin to hear directly from authorities in Germany about the challenges they face as the main country of destination for many new arrivals.
The Director met with national authorities, as well as with civil society organisations, national human rights bodies and the UN’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR). FRA then discussed with frontline staff deployed by the European Commission, EU’s Borders Agency (Frontex), the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), and local authorities in Lesbos and Lampedusa. The field visits were organised in cooperation with the Agency’s National Liaison Officers, Frontex and EASO. The Frontex Fundamental Rights Officer joined the visits in Italy and Greece.
Overall, the field mission helped FRA gain a better understanding of the pressing fundamental rights issues posed by the current migratory flows which include many people in need of international protection. The meetings with people working on the ground provided first-hand insights on how FRA could further support EU institutions, relevant EU agencies and competent authorities with fundamental rights expertise in this emergency situation. The Director will debrief the Agency’s Management Board and the European Commission about the implications for FRA’s future work. FRA will also intensify its cooperation with EU agencies operating on the ground, particularly Frontex and EASO.