The first ever Rabat Process action led by reference countries, to take place on 7th July 2021, focuses on international protection and asylum (Domain 3 of the Marrakesh Action Plan), and in particular on the asylum procedure for unaccompanied minors. Switzerland and Chad - as reference countries for Domain 3 - will Chair the virtual roundtable which addresses the “reception” stage of the asylum process.

The roundtable is the first part in a series of three events (the following being a roundtable and study visit in Geneva in October), each focusing on different phases of a refugee’s journey. It is piloted by Switzerland and Chad, in collaboration with the Rabat Process Secretariat and with technical support from UNHCR.

Participation in the roundtable is restricted, on an exceptional basis, to a limited number of African and European Rabat Process partner countries who were selected after responding to an expression of interest.

What is a reference country?
In 2019, a system of "reference countries" was launched, whereby Rabat Process partners were invited to volunteer to lead the implementation of activities contained in the Marrakech Action Plan. This system was designed to strengthen partners' sense of ownership of and involvement in the Dialogue, and to create opportunities for cooperation and collaboration between partner countries, both European and African.

Putting asylum back on the agenda

The virtual roundtable is not only the first reference country action, but also the first Rabat Process event on asylum since a thematic meeting in 2015 that focused specifically on protection and asylum.

The themes of asylum and the protection of unaccompanied minors (UAMs) were chosen because of the relevance of the phenomenon of UAM migration, whether intra-North, West and Central African or African to the EU, and the issues that this raises. The challenges posed by the migration of UAMs requires balanced responses aimed at protecting children whilst maintaining governance of migratory movements.

Addressing these issues responds not only to objectives 5 and 6 of the Marrakech Action Plan, but also to its crosscutting priority 2: "Special attention will be given to gender issues and the protection of migrants in vulnerable situations, including in particular women and children".

Follow-up activities

This virtual roundtable, focusing on the “reception” phase, will be followed by a roundtable, taking place in Geneva on 13th October 2021, which will focus on risks and assistance for UAMs “on the road” and on the search for sustainable solutions for unaccompanied minors.