EASO COI Meeting Report 30 Nov - 1 Dec 2017


On 30 November and 1 December, EASO organised a meeting for the members of EASO’s Syria COI specialists network. These are specialists and researchers who focus on Syria and the region. It was attended by COI research specialists from 20 EU+1 countries.

The purpose of the meeting was to facilitate discussions among participants on key issues in Syria relevant to COI researchers, to update each other on recent information needs and new national products, and to discuss future joint activities. Norway and Sweden discussed recent fact-finding missions. External experts and organisations gave presentations on recent developments and specific topics requested.

This meeting report presents information from the external expert presentations and ‘question and answer’ sessions.

The external speakers invited to give presentations were:

Christopher Kozak, is a Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) where he focuses on Syria with an emphasis on the Assad Regime and Iran in the Syrian Civil War. He is the author of An Army in All Corners: Assad’s Campaign Strategy in Syria and has published numerous articles on various actors in the Syrian Civil War, including ISIS, Syrian Kurds, and pro-regime foreign fighters. He has also been invited to provide briefings to political leaders, military officers, and intelligence officials from the U.S. as well as foreign allies.

Dr. Esther van Eijk, an affiliated researcher at Maastricht University who specialises in (religious) family law, particularly in Syria. She has researched and published extensively on Syrian family law issues, including completing ethnographic field research in Syria. She is the author of Family Law in Syria: Patriarchy, Pluralism and Personal Status Laws, published by I.B. Tarusi in 2016.

Dr. Fabrice Balanche, an associate professor and research director at the University of Lyon 2 and a Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He forcuses on political geography of conflict and development in the Middle East and Syria. His work has focused on analysing the evolution of the Syrian conflict through the study of territory and political power. His publications include Geopolitics of the Middle East (2014, in French), Atlas of the Near East (2012, in English, French, and Arabic), the book version of his thesis, The Alawite Region and Syrian Power (2006, in French), and many articles on Syria and Middle East. His latest book, Sectarianism in the Syrian Civil War (in English), was published in February 2018.

UNHCR, UNHCR gave a presentation on new protection considerations for Syria.


The policy implemented by the Commissioner General is based on a thorough analysis of accurate and up-to-date information on the general situation in the country of origin. This information is collated in a professional manner from various, objective sources, including the EASO, the UNHCR, relevant international human rights organisations, non-governmental organisations, professional literature and coverage in the media. When determining policy, the Commissioner General does not only examine the COI Focuses written by Cedoca and published on this website, as these deal with just one aspect of the general situation in the country of origin. The fact that a COI Focus could be out-of-date does not mean that the policy that is being implemented by the Commissioner General is no longer up-to-date.

When assessing an application for asylum, the Commissioner General not only considers the actual situation in the country of origin at the moment of decision-making, he also takes into account the individual situation and personal circumstances of the applicant for international protection. Every asylum application is examined individually. An applicant must comprehensively demonstrate that he has a well-founded fear of persecution or that there is a clear personal risk of serious harm. He cannot, therefore, simply refer back to the general conditions in his country, but must also present concrete, credible and personal facts.

There is no policy paper for this country available on the website.


Information about the asylum procedure, tailored to the asylum seeker, can be found at : asyluminbelgium.be.