Saturday

23rd Mar 2019

Expert teams in Niger to steer migrants home

  • Road to Agadez in northern Niger, a migrant smuggling hub (Photo: Joris-Jan van den Boom)

Italy is spearheading a pilot project in Niger to convince migrants en route to Europe to stop their journey.

Roaming teams of experts will be dispatched along known migratory routes in Niger to intercept them before they reach the north African coast and Europe.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The International Organisation of Migration (IOM), which is involved, says the pilot is set for launch sometime over summer.

“We are working with the Italians and with the European Commission on what we call migrant resource and referral mechanisms,” Eugenio Ambrosi, IOM’s Brussels’ office regional director, said on Monday (13 April).

Details on budget and number of teams still need to be worked out with Niger’s government, but Ambrosi said a successful pilot could entail expanding the project to other countries, such as Tunisia.

Niger is recognised as a major cross-road for West and Central African migrants moving toward Libya, where they set off in boats along the coastline between Tripoli and the Tunisian border.

Although political asylum claims from these countries are typically rejected in Europe, many still meet up with Libyan smugglers in Agadez, a large market town in northern Niger.

Teams, including authorities from Niger, are to be dispatched in the hope of intercepting them before they move further north.

Only emergency cases like the severely ill, unaccompanied minors, or victims of human trafficking would be taken to a facility for temporary monitoring, said Ambrosi.

All others would be allowed to continue their journey should they choose.

“We don’t want to create any structure that would attract more people,” said Ambrosi.

He noted the basic idea is to provide them with an “alternative to continuing the trip north.”

This includes possibly allowing them either to settle in the country of transit or a return ticket back home.

Ambrosi said those that are returned home would be accompanied by community level development initiatives to help with their reintegration.

“So the idea we are working on is to try and ease some pressure by tackling the groups that are not asylum seekers,” he said.

Legitimate asylum seekers are to be referred to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

The European Commission, for its part, says the pilot is in the planning stages and so cannot give specific details.

But commission spokesperson Natasha Bertaud said the objective of such a "pilot project would be to create first reception centres in Niger – an important transit country – in order to facilitate the screening and voluntary return operations of migrants as well as the identification of persons in need of protection."

The Brussels-based executive in late March announced it would set aside an additional €1.8 billion to fund programmes on asylum, migration, integration and security over the next 10 years.

The addition brings the total to around €7 billion. Most of it will be channeled through member states.

EU to 'capture and destroy' migrant traffickers' boats

EU leaders are to ask foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to look into setting up a defence mission that would "identify, capture and destroy vessels" potentially used by human traffickers.

EU asylum return focus expands police scrutiny

EU interior ministers agreed to start legislative talks with the EU parliament to expand the scope of an asylum database, Eurodac, to include migrants and stateless people.

Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election

Smer, Slovakia's ruling party, wants the country's media to give politicians a right-of-reply, or face stiff fines. Advocates of a free press are alarmed, and it poses a problem for the European Commission, whose vice-president is a Smer presidential candidate.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us