Today the European Union, through the EU Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), the governments of Germany and Italy, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have launched a new initiative to support African countries in responding to the urgent protection needs and tragic loss of life of migrants along the Central Mediterranean migration routes and in strengthening migration governance. The new "EU Trust Fund for Africa and IOM initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration of Returnees along the Central Mediterranean migration routes", benefiting from a €100 million allocation, will cover the Sahel and Lake Chad region and neighbouring countries, including Libya.
Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission declared: "The European Union is delivering on its commitments. Our primary goal is to save lives at sea, to protect the most vulnerable, to provide possible alternatives to migration and ultimately to improving people's lives. Our work with IOM helps our partners to better manage migration flows, to offer support to migrants in strained circumstances and provide reintegration opportunities to returning migrants. These are the commitments we took one year ago in the Valletta Summit, and then with the Partnership Framework on Migration, and the first results are coming. We will continue to deliver."
Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica stated: "Migrants often become stranded along migration routes in Africa and the Mediterranean and find that they are unable to continue their journey. At this point, far from home and with no money, they are faced with difficult choices in order to survive or continue their journey. They become victims of criminal networks and are subject to trafficking of all kinds. Migration is not about numbers, it is about human beings. This new initiative will provide credible alternatives to those men, women and children that are the most at risk".
Director General of IOM, William Lacy Swing, added: "At IOM, we look forward to strengthening our partnership with the EU and our African member states toward our shared vision of a world in which migrants move as a matter of genuine choice and not desperation, in which their rights are protected, and in which migration is well-governed so it is a positive force for sustainable and inclusive development around the globe."
In support of the initiative, Germany intends to contribute up to €48 million to the EU Trust Fund for Africa. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, stated: “As the root causes of flight cannot be coped with by any country alone, we have to approach a better management of migration on a European and global level. Together with the European Union, EU member states, and the International Organization for Migration, we are now bringing together several important components in a regional approach with fourteen African partner countries towards this end.
It remains our highest priority to prevent people from taking extremely dangerous refugee routes and to provide protection and aid for those in flight. With this initiative we support both countries of origin and transit states, especially in Western Africa and in the Sahel region, in creating credible perspectives for refugees to remain in their countries or to voluntarily return. Particularly important to me is this: Through targeted communication, also in the transit countries, we warn people about the dangers lurking on migration routes or networks of traffickers, and we shed light on rumours or misconceptions about the countries of destination. Concerning Germany, we have started this process with a campaign last year addressing rumours about our country.”
With an additional contribution of €22 million, Italy also insisted on the importance of the initiative. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Angelino Alfano, declared: "Italy is strongly engaged to embed its action into European strategies which can address the root causes of massive flows. The EU Emergency Trust Fund is a fundamental tool to cope with the sense of urgency of this challenge, in the spirit of genuine partnership with the African Countries enshrined in the Valletta Declaration and in the EU Partnership Framework. In this context, stepping up our cooperation with IOM is key to support our partner countries to implement short and medium term measures aimed at managing the flows, preventing irregular migration and trafficking, supporting the voluntary return and reintegration of migrants in their home communities."
Through the initiative, the EU and IOM will work with local, national and international stakeholders to implement projects in 14 countries with a total indicative budget of €100 million.
The three-year actions will focus on the following:
- Increase protection and assistance for vulnerable and stranded migrants: life-saving assistance and migrant support services will be strengthened along migration routes to address immediate needs for food and water, medical and psycho-social care, as well as temporary shelter for an estimated 60,000 migrants.
- Facilitate voluntary return: many stranded and vulnerable migrants express the wish to return home rather than continue their dangerous journeys. The actions foresee assisted voluntary return for up to 24,000 migrants from countries of transit or destination in Africa (notably Libya, Niger and Mali).
- Achieve sustainable reintegration: up to 24,000 migrants returning from Africa and to a lesser extend from Europe will benefit from counselling and reintegration support in their countries of origin. The support, whether individual or community based, will ensure a sustainable reintegration. A special attention will be provided to vulnerable migrants and their needs during the return and reintegration process.
- Enhance government and stakeholder policies and responses: The actions will contribute to the consolidation of legislation, policy or procedures and reinforce the response of local stakeholders to enhance the appropriation, sustainability and coordination of the actions. Capacity building of governments, authorities, and local stakeholders will focus on migrant protection, return and reintegration, information and awareness raising campaigns, data collection and analysis.
- Give access to accurate information: An estimated 200,000 migrants and some 2000 communities will have access to accurate information on migration that can support informed choices, mitigate the risks associated with irregular migration, raise awareness of migrants' rights and responsibilities within host communities and counter negative narratives of migration representing a "burden" or a "danger" to hosting countries.
- Improve data on migration flows, routes and trends as well as migrants needs and vulnerabilities. Data collection tools and migration flow monitoring, jointly implemented with governments, will support governments to develop informed and responsive policy and programmatic responses to migration challenges and opportunities.
- The EU and IOM Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration of Returnees in Africa responds to the Valletta Political Declaration and Action Plan as agreed between the EU and African partners in November 2015 and the Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration.
For More Information
Website of the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa:http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/regions/africa/eu-emergency-trust-fund-africa_en