Syria; EU Turkey Agreement; Refugees [to 23 April 2016]

Syria; EU Turkey Agreement; Refugees

Editor’s Note:
We aggregate below a number of announcements, analyses, and calls-to-action addressing the continuing refugee-migrant crisis.
Please see additional European Commission and agency/NGO announcements around the EU-Turkey Agreement and migration-refugee issues overall below.

Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals in 2016: 180,245; Deaths: 1,232
IOM reports that an estimated 180,245 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea in 2016, arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain, through 20 April.

Survivors report massive loss of life in latest Mediterranean Sea tragedy
18 April 2016
On Tuesday, a UNHCR team interviewed survivors of what could be one of the worst tragedies involving refugees and migrants in the last 12 months. If confirmed, as many as 500 people may have lost their lives when a large ship went down in the Mediterranean Sea at an unknown location between Libya and Italy. The 41 survivors (37 men, three women and a three-year-old child) were rescued by a merchant ship and taken to Kalamata, in the Peloponnese peninsula of Greece on 16 April. Those rescued include 23 Somalis, 11 Ethiopians, 6 Egyptians and a Sudanese…

…UNHCR continues to call for increased regular pathways for the admission of refugees and asylum-seekers to Europe, including resettlement and humanitarian admission programmes, family reunification, private sponsorship and student and work visas for refugees. These will all serve to reduce the demand for people smuggling and dangerous irregular sea journeys.

Managing the Refugee Crisis: Commission reports on implementation of EU-Turkey Statement
European Commission – Press release Brussels, 20 April 2016
The Commission has today reported on the implementation of the EU-Turkey Agreement and finds that good progress has been made to operationalise the Statement. Continued efforts and commitments are needed to consolidate this position and carry out sustained return and resettlement operations, given that this aspect of implementation still largely lies ahead. On 18 March 2016, EU Heads of State or Government and Turkey agreed to end the irregular migration from Turkey to the EU and replace it instead with legal channels of resettlement of refugees to the European Union. This new approach has started to deliver results, with a sharp decrease seen in the number of people irregularly crossing the Aegean from Turkey into Greece. Today’s report also constitutes the fourth report on the implementation of the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan of 29 November 2015.

European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “The first result of our cooperation with Turkey is that the message is starting to get through that turning to smugglers is the wrong choice to make. In the past three weeks we have seen a sharp decrease in irregular arrivals, which now needs to go hand-in-hand with opening up the legal channel of resettlement to those in need of protection. Although we have seen good progress in the initial stages of implementation, the Commission will remain engaged to ensure full and timely delivery of all elements of the EU-Turkey Statement, including projects for refugees from Syria in Turkey, the visa liberalisation process and compliance with EU and international laws.”

Today’s Report concludes that there has been good progress since 18 March, with joint efforts by the Greek and Turkish authorities, the Commission, Member States and EU agencies making headway in operationalising the Statement:

:: The return of irregular migrants to Turkey started on 4 April. So far, 325 irregular migrants arriving to Greece via Turkey after 20 March have been returned to Turkey under the Statement. We welcome that a number of legal changes have been undertaken by both Greece and Turkey to ensure full respect of EU and international law. Frontex has deployed 318 escort officers and 21 readmission experts to the Greek islands to support the return operations. In addition, a total of 25 Turkish liaison officers have been deployed in the Greek hotspots and 5 Greek liaison officers to arrival points in Turkey.

:: The first resettlements from Turkey following the Statement took place on 4-5 April. So far, 103 Syrian refugees have been resettled to the EU under the 1:1 scheme. Standard Operating Procedures for resettlement have been developed in close cooperation between the Commission, Member States, EASO, UNHCR and Turkey, and now need to be finalised.

:: Greece has set up accelerated procedures for the processing of all stages of asylum applications on the islands, from the initial interviews to the appeals. Greece has already deployed case officers and police officers to the islands, in line with the requirements of the Asylum Procedures Directive. EASO has deployed 60 asylum officers and 67 interpreters to the Greek islands to support the processing of asylum applications.

:: The Commission will present its third visa liberalisation progress report for Turkey on 4 May and, if Turkey takes the necessary measures to fulfil the remaining benchmarks, the report will be accompanied by a legislative proposal for transferring Turkey to the visa-free list.

:: Programming and project preparation under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey have been accelerated. In addition to €1 billion from the EU budget, 16 EU Member States have now sent in their contribution certificates, covering €1.61 billion out of the €2 billion pledged for 2016-2017. The first contracts under the Facility, worth €77 million, were signed on 4 March and the first payments were made on 18 March.

The good progress in the initial phase of implementation now needs to be stepped up in the next phases. The Commission will remain fully engaged in implementing all elements of the Statement. Member States need to step up their efforts in supporting Greece, particularly given the need to pay particular attention to children and vulnerable groups; more pledges and acceptances are needed in terms of resettlement, relocation and support to the EU agencies. Those Member States that have not sent in their contribution certificates under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey should quickly do so.

Equally, further efforts are required by Turkey to make sure that those who need international protection receive the kind of support they most require including through the Facility. Turkey also needs to take the necessary measures to fulfil the remaining benchmarks of the visa liberalisation roadmap by the end of April, with a view to lifting the visa requirements for Turkish citizens at the latest by the end of June 2016.

The Commission will present its second report on the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement in early June 2016…


New measures approved to improve stability and tackle the root causes of irregular migration
European Commission – Press release Brussels, 18 April 2016
The European Commission today announced the introduction of 20 new measures in the Sahel region and Lake Chad Basin, worth over EUR 280 million in total.

The European Commission today announced the adoption of 20 new measures to assist the Sahel region and the Lake Chad Basin under the ‘Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa’.

These measures, with a budget of over EUR 280 million, correspond directly to the commitments made under the Action Plan adopted at the Valletta Summit (11 12 November 2015). The aim of the measures is to improve the management of migration flows, create sustainable economic opportunities for young people and address the factors of instability and vulnerability. Under these measures, EUR 100 million are earmarked for the Lake Chad region, in particular to support those affected by the Boko Haram terrorist group.

EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, added: ‘With these twenty new measures worth almost EUR 300 million, the Trust Fund is demonstrating once again its added value in swiftly launching projects to tackle the root causes of instability and irregular migration in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin regions. We are focusing in particular on job creation, especially for young people, and the socio economic reintegration of vulnerable groups. These sections of the population are the main victims of instability and they should be the main beneficiaries of our projects.’

The measures are targeted specifically at the areas of origin and transit of migrants and the main areas of instability. They are part of a comprehensive response by the European Union and are the result of an enhanced political dialogue with its partners on the question of migration.

Eight countries in the region will benefit from this assistance through an integrated approach which reflects the complexity of migration and the diversity of the challenges in the region:
:: Three measures (EUR 63 million) will be geared to the regions of origin of migrants in Senegal and Mauritania in order to create economic opportunities for young people, prevent irregular migration and promote voluntary returns.
:: Two measures (EUR 37 million) will target the areas of transit in Niger in order to increase employment opportunities and income-generating activities for migrants and local populations.
:: One measure (EUR 6 million) will be aimed at setting up a joint investigation team in Niger to combat networks engaged in smuggling migrants and human trafficking.
:: A regional measure (EUR 5 million) will build on the capacities of the countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the fight against organised crime, trafficking and terrorism by creating or strengthening capacity to collect, pool, manage and share police data.
:: One measure (EUR 3 million) will help to protect migrant children from exploitation and human trafficking in Mauritania.
:: One measure (EUR 6 million) will be aimed at strengthening the commitment of the Malian diaspora in Europe to developing Mali’s economy and in particular the areas of origin of migrants.
:: One measure (EUR 10 million) will underpin the implementation of the Northern Mali Peace Agreement.
:: Eight measures (EUR 118 million) will target the Lake Chad region and the areas affected by the crisis linked to Boko Haram in order to boost the resilience of vulnerable groups, in particular women and the displaced, and strengthen conflict prevention and management.
:: Two measures (EUR 30 million) will be aimed at supporting the most vulnerable groups and contributing to the socio-economic integration of women in northern Burkina Faso.

Other measures more specifically aimed at combating migrant smuggling and human trafficking, supporting internal security forces, border management and governance of migration flows are currently being formulated and will be presented in the coming weeks.

Following the adoption of 10 measures in January 2016 worth EUR 100 million in addition to today’s EUR 280 million, the Fund thus confirms its ability to respond swiftly and in a targeted manner to the specific challenges of the region, complementing other EU action.


IOM Releases Global Migration Trends 2015 Factsheet
Posted: 04/19/16
IOM’s Global Migration Trends Factsheet 2015 presents a snapshot of the migration trends worldwide for the year 2015, based on migration statistics from a variety of sources.

In 2015, the number of international migrants worldwide – people residing in a country other than their country of birth – was the highest ever recorded, at 244 million (up from 232 million in 2013).

As a share of the world population, however, international migration has remained fairly constant over the past decades, at around 3 percent.

While female migrants constitute only 48 percent of the international migrant stock worldwide, and 42 percent in Asia, women make up the majority of international migrants in Europe (52.4 percent) and North America (51.2 percent).

South-South migration flows (across developing countries) continued to grow compared to South-North movements (from developing to developed countries.) In 2015, 90.2 million international migrants born in developing countries were living in other countries in the Global South, while 85.3 million born in the South lived in countries in the Global North.

Germany became the second most popular destination for international migrants globally (in absolute numbers), following the United States and ahead of the Russian Federation, with an estimated 12 million foreign-born people living in the country in 2015 (compared to 46.6 million in the US and 11.9 million in the Russian Federation).

As a proportion of the host country’s population, however, numbers of international migrants continue to be highest in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. The foreign-born population makes up 88.4 percent of the total population in the United Arab Emirates, 75.7 percent in Qatar and 73.6 percent in Kuwait.

Close to 1 in 5 migrants in the world live in the top 20 largest cities, according to IOM’s World Migration Report 2015. International migrants make up over a third of the total population in cities like Sydney, Auckland, Singapore and London. At least one in four residents in Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris is foreign-born.

The year 2015 saw the highest levels of forced displacement globally recorded since World War II, with a dramatic increase in the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people across various regions of the world – from Africa to the Middle East and South Asia.

The world hosted 15.1 million refugees by mid-2015. This is a 45 percent increase compared to three and a half years ago, largely due to continued conflict in the Syria, now well into its fifth year. Some five million people were newly displaced in the first half of 2015…

For more information and figures, see the Global Migration Trends Factsheet 2015