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Only 189 migrants returned to Turkey despite EU refugee pact

The EU and Turkey reached a so-called refugee deal in 2016 to prevent illegal migration. But new figures show that a tiny fraction of migrants are being returned to Turkey, while the EU is resettling significantly more.

Despite a 2016 refugee agreement between the European Union and Turkey, only 189 irregular migrants who crossed the Aegean Sea to Greece were returned to Turkey in 2019, according to new EU figures.

That figure is minuscule compared with the approximately 60,100 refugees who landed in Greece in 2019, a sharp rise from the year before.

The EU-Turkey migrant deal was implemented to stop “irregular migration via Turkey to Europe” and “break the business model of the smugglers and to offer migrants an alternative to putting their lives at risk.”

Under the agreement, Turkey is obligated to take back irregular Syrian migrants who pass through its territory to prevent them from crossing into Greece. For every irregular returned to Turkey, another Syrian approved for asylum in the EU will be resettled in one of the 28 states.

READ  EU-IOM joint initiative celebrates its fourth anniversary: A lifeline to vulnerable and stranded migrants amid COVID-19

Turkey has also received a total of €6 billion ($6.6 billion) in funding, €3 billion in 2016 and €3 billion in 2018.

According to a European Commission report seen by the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, a total of 1,995 Syrian asylum-seekers were returned to Turkey from 2016 to 2019 — 801 in 2016, 683 in 2017, 332 in 2018 and 189 in 2019. Meanwhile, during the same period, the EU has resettled 25,660 Syrians coming via Turkey.

The European Commission report said that of the 60,100 asylum-seekers who landed on Greek islands in 2019, around 37,700 were transferred to the mainland.

The large number of migrant arrivals on Greece’s Aegean islands of Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Kos and Leros has put extreme pressure on overloaded refugee camps. Around 42,000 people reside in these camps and there is a shortage of food, clothing and medicine.

05:06 mins.

Turkey not doing enough

Thorsten Frei, deputy leader of Germany’s center-right CDU/CSU parliamentary group, who is responsible for migration, told Welt am Sonntag that the refugee situation in Greece was close to becoming untenable.

READ  Greek hotels to become shelters for asylum-seekers amid virus fears

“That has unmistakably to do with the fact that Turkey is no longer consistently preventing landings,” Frei said.

Ankara has accused the EU of not living up to its obligations under the migrant deal and has demanded the bloc provide more funds.

Slow process

Frei also accused Greek authorities of not sending back migrants arriving from Turkey, which he finds “unacceptable” in view of offers from the EU to help Greece.

“The number of repatriations from Greece to Turkey has for years only known one direction: it is going down. One must speak quite openly of an administrative failure here,” Frei told the paper.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Friday his government intended to apply for more EU funding to build new camps on the islands and to speed up the process of evaluating asylum applications. Mitsotakis estimates his administration “inherited” around 80,000 open asylum applications from the previous government last year.

(Culled from DW)

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Dominican Republic, IOM clear hurdles for 100,000 Venezuelan migrants

The Migration Normalization Plan will allow Venezuelans living irregularly in the Dominican Republic to work, move without risk of deportation, open bank accounts and join the country’s social security system.  Photo: IOM / Francesco Spotorno

 

 

Santo Domingo – The first group of almost 100,000 Venezuelan migrants without legal status in the Dominican Republic have received visas allowing them to work, open bank accounts and join the social security system under the country’s Migration Normalization Plan.

Created by the Dominican government and launched with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the plan aims to regularize the Venezuelan population in three stages: application for extension of stay, visa, and residency. Since April, when the first phase began, 43,000  Venezuelans have registered to extend their stay and, on 1 July, the first group of 21 Venezuelans received their work visa.

“Now that I have my visa, I feel that for others like me a lot of opportunities are opening. We will be able to establish more safely and formally to offer a better future to our children,” says Gabriela Rivero, who arrived in the country with her husband and daughter in 2018.  “Once we settled, we did not imagine how difficult it would be to get a job because the lack of documentation closed all doors.”

READ  At a climate change crossroads: How a Biden-Harris administration can support and protect communities displaced by climate change

Since 2019 Gabriela has led a support organization for Venezuelan migrants in Santiago de los Caballeros called FEV (Fundación Emigrantes de Venezuela), which offers free orientation and helps hundreds of migrants daily to complete their normalization plan applications.

With IOM support, eight Venezuelan migrant organizations have created orientation hubs to assist the Venezuelan population who are applying to the plan. Of the 43,000  registered through the General Directorate of Migration (DGM) web page, around 9,000 have visited the hubs for help on the procedure. The promoters and coordinators of each hub – mostly Venezuelan migrants – have learned the process with the support and guidance of the DGM team and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MIREX). Besides being trained for orientation, they became the pilot group of the plan to receive their extensions and visas.

“The idea of this process is that we are the ones at the front of the hubs, a migrant helping a migrant, a Venezuelan helping a Venezuelan,” says Iván Carrera, a lawyer from Caracas and legal adviser of FUNCOVERD (Fundación Colonia de Venezolanos en RD). Carrera works as a promoter at the orientation hub in El Sambil Santo Domingo, one of the locations with the most people requesting support for their application.

READ  JIFORM calls for multi-dimensional approaches to tackling human trafficking

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IOM launches open South America portal

International Organisation of Migration (

Buenos Aires – IOM, the International Organization for Migration, this week launched the Open South America Portal, a web platform providing migrants and stakeholders in the region with access to reliable and timely information on human mobility restrictions and health and safety measures adopted by governments in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Open South America, available in SpanishEnglish and Portuguese, shares official information by country on the latest measures, including border restrictions, quarantine requirements and COVID-19 tests for migrants and travellers.

The portal also provides updated information on authorized entry points and key places for travellers and migrants, such as consulates, migrant care and health centres, airports, border crossings points and ports. This information can be explored through an interactive map.

The platform, funded by the IOM Development Fund, is also accessible to vulnerable migrants who may be stranded or are at risk of receiving misinformation on migration.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, South America has been one of the most impacted regions worldwide. According to the World Health Organization figures, as of 8 July 2021 there were 33,475,765 COVID-19 cumulative cases in the region, which represents 89 per cent of the total cases in Latin America, and 18 per cent of all infections recorded globally.

READ  IOM provides 40,000 surgical gloves, 4,800 surgical masks other equipment to support Coronavirus response in China

Countries such as Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador all experienced severe outbreaks. For example, Brazil currently reports the third highest number of cumulative cases (18,855,015) and second highest death toll (526,892) globally.

“Open South America will facilitate orderly, regular and responsible migration in South America amid the uncertain times of COVID-19 and after the pandemic,” said Minister Ana Laura Cachaza, General Director of Consular Affairs of the Government of Argentina.

“Migrants’ access to up-to-date information through innovative online tools is essential considering the changing migration dynamic in the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director for South America.

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29,000 Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians, other Africans migrated through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in 2021 —IOM

The International Organisation for Migration has said that 29,000 individuals including Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians and other Africans have emigrated to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea this year.

About 13,000 were arrested by the coast guards and returned home while 761 migrants were said to have perished in the sea.

Disclosing this to journalists in Abuja on Friday, the Chief of Mission, IOM Nigeria, Mr Franz Celestin, said less than five per cent of migrants usually made it to Europe, adding that the vast majority stay in Africa.

He further said that a lot of migrants were trafficked within the Economic Community of West African States, adding that Mali was the number one destination point for trafficked Nigerian women.

Responding to questions on the number of people who have undertaken the perilous trip to Europe through the Mediterranean, the IOM Chief said, “A combination of unemployment and underemployment is pushing people to migrate.

READ  Nigerian medical student dies in Russia

“In this year, 29,000 migrants from Sub-Sahara Africa have migrated to Europe through the Mediterranean. About 13,000 were intercepted by the coastguard while 761 died.”

International Organisation of Migration (

Celestin stressed the importance of tackling human trafficking which he said grossed about $150 billion annually.

“Traffickers make a lot of money and they would continue to do it until a coordinated response is evolved to stop them. We are collaborating with Interpol in this respect; we are connected to the Interpol i/247 database. We connected the MIDAS to the Interpol database where we pass the information on traffickers to the Interpol,” he stated.

Celestin explained that the IOM has been involved in the biometric registration of children in the North-East, noting that the agency has registered no fewer than 17,053 children in 18 different internally displaced person camps between 2019 and May 2021 in Borno State.

The agency chief also disclosed that IOM was involved in the G7 Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Compact for North-East.

READ  EU turns its back on migrants in distress

 

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