Monday

23rd Oct 2017

EU proposes to resettle 50,000 African refugees

  • International aid workers in Chad (Photo: ec - Audiovisual Service)

The European Commission is setting aside €500 million to pay member states to resettle 50,000 refugees from Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, and Sudan by late 2019.

EU home affairs commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters on Wednesday (27 September) that the move was needed to help curtail irregular migrant flows to Europe.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"I really count on member states to make ambitious pledges," he said. Some 14,000 places among 11 EU states have already been pledged since July for the Africa scheme.

"Europe has to show that it is ready to share responsibility with third countries, notably in Africa. People who are in genuine need of protection should not risk their lives or depend on smugglers," he said.

The EU commission's announcement follows UN calls for an additional 40,000 resettlement spaces in Europe.

But baiting EU states with money "to show solidarity", or some €10,000 for each person resettled, also appears pragmatic given the bloc's track record on migrants.

Altogether, some 39,000 people were resettled from Africa throughout the world for the entire year of 2016.

Of those, only around 1,800 found homes in the EU, of which some 50 ended up in non-EU member state Norway, according to figures provided by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).

Not a single person was resettled from Niger in 2016 despite a waiting list of over 11,000. Chad resettled 641, but they all went either to Canada or to the United States.

The global numbers also showed a low level of engagement by EU states.

Last year, the UNHCR said, some 126,000 were resettled worldwide, of which only 13,275 ended up in an EU state, or 17,147 including Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. Most went to the United States and Canada.

These figures appeared to contradict earlier statements by EU commission head Jean-Claude Juncker, who told MEPs during his recent state-of-the-union address, that EU states last year had "resettled or granted asylum" to three times more people than the United States, Canada, and Australia combined.

Meanwhile, resettlement to the EU from Turkey and the Middle East will continue. Around 23,000 have left refugee camps, mainly from Turkey and Jordan, to settle in an EU state.

"We cannot stop showing solidarity towards these desperate people and the countries hosting them," noted Avramopoulos.

The resettlement plans are voluntary and differ from a separate EU relocation scheme.

Unlike relocation, resettlement refers to people already identified by the UN as refugees and who typically resided in camps outside Europe.

Relocation refers to people who arrive mainly by boat to either Greece or Italy and are then registered as asylum seekers and sent to another member state to process their claim.

In practice, people who end up on the Greek islands are often stuck in a legal limbo given the broad resistance towards relocation in EU states and due to Greek administrative blunders.

Despite fewer new arrivals, many still sleep out in the open and in poor conditions amid reports of violence and self-harm.

The EU's two-year relocation quota scheme, which ended this month, managed to relocate only 29,000 people, given widespread bureaucratic delays, political resistance, and outright boycotts from the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland.

The main evening news show on Polish state TV on Wednesday hailed the failure of the relocation quotas as a victory for Hungary and Poland in the EU.

It said the voluntary nature of the resettlement scheme meant that the EU commission had given up on its previous idea of forcing member states to take in people against their wishes.

Meanwhile, the EU commission hopes that a long-awaited reform of the so-called Dublin regulation, which determines the member state responsible for an asylum seeker's registration, will now be possible.

"Now that the migratory flows have subsided in Europe, there is once again a window of opportunity to advance the work," said Avramopoulos.

EU to step up migrant returns

After Juncker's state of the union speech, the EU Commission is set to propose many new measures on migration before the end of the year, with an emphasis on returns, legal routes, and "solidarity" with African states.

Feature

Syrians find troubled homes in Egypt

Despite EU aid, Syrian families are finding it difficult to integrate into Egyptian society, with reports now emerging that some Syrian girls are subjected to genital mutilation.

Nepal units arrive in Libya to guard UN refugee agency

The UN is sending guards to Libya to provide security for staff working with the UN refugee agency and other UN missions inside compound premises in Tripoli. The agency's work in Libya is broadly funded by the EU.

MEPs: EU migrant quotas do have a future

The EU Parliament's lead negotiator on the Dublin rule, a key asylum regulation that has sparked a political clash among EU states, is now demanding for an automatic and permanent relocation scheme.

News in Brief

  1. May: EU member states will not lose out with Brexit
  2. Slovakia pledges to be 'pro-European' oasis in region
  3. Report: Catalan leader to address Spanish senate
  4. Fiat-Chrysler 'obstructed justice' reports Le Monde
  5. EU presidency 'confident' on posted workers agreement
  6. Young conservatives boot out Erdogan's party
  7. Tsipras urged to let refugees go before winter sets in
  8. Thousands demand justice in Malta

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Martens CentreI Say Europe, You Say...? Interview With EU Commission VP Jyrki Katainen
  2. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  4. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  5. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  6. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  7. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  10. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  11. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  12. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe