EC: Insufficient progress in the resettlement programmes

EC: Insufficient progress in the resettlement programmes

Athens, May 19, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

Unsatisfactory progress has been recorded by the European Commission in the relocation and resettlement programs, according to the third consecutive report issued Wednesday.

In general, the Commission notes that after mid-April there were very few relocations, but there was an increase in preparation for future relocation.

Progress has been made in connection to the relocation in the implementation of the EU-Turkey statement, efforts however, need to intensify in order to prevent the return of migrants to irregular routes.

“We can not be satisfied with the results that have been achieved to date. We must do more and we need to do them quickly”, said the Immigration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, emphasising that “the deterioration of the situation in Italy must be avoided and the emergency humanitarian situation in Greece must be dealt with promptly”. D. Avramopoulos added that the planning of the upcoming relocation must be implemented and called on all Member States to prepare and take action. At the same time, he stressed the need to increase relocations, mainly from Turkey, but also from other countries such as Lebanon and Jordan. “The progress we made recently in inhibiting smugglers can only be maintained if at the same time a safe passage is opened for legitimate asylum seekers. It is important to intensify our efforts and to fully implement the mechanism 1: 1 as part of the EU-Turkey agreement”, said the Greek commissioner.

In particular, as regards migration, the Commission stresses that the target set last March for the relocation of at least 20,000 people by mid-May was not reached. Only 355 additional people were resettled from mid-March to mid-May, bringing the total number of applicants who migrated from Greece and Italy to 1500. Again, only a few Member States and associated Schengen countries made relocation efforts.

Based on the latest available data, around 46,000 migrants and asylum seekers are in the Greek mainland, awaiting the processing of their applications. “Greece is facing a humanitarian crisis that requires swift action to allow for numerous relocations”, says the Commission, noting that Greece is preparing a pre-recording system that will accelerate the identification and the complete recording of asylum migration. Following this pre-reconrding, the Commission considers that a significant number of other asylum seekers will be ready for relocation in the coming months.

Moreover, in its report the Commission urges Member States to make the appropriate planning to increase their commitments and reduce the response time in relaying applications. The Commission also invites all stakeholders to accelerate the relocation of unaccompanied minors.

Regarding resettlement, based on data received from participating States, 6321 people had resettled until May 13. These individuals were accepted by 16 countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and United Kingdom).

The number of resettlements from Turkey continues to grow, as Member States are finalizing the assessment of the files sent to them by Turkey, through the United Nations for Refugees (UNHCR). From April 4, 2016, 177 Syrians resettled from Turkey. Sweden received the highest number (55), followed by Germany (54), the Netherlands (52), Finland (11) and Lithuania (5). applications and applicants have already accepted 723 still awaiting transfer to seven different Member States.

In total, 19 Member States and one associated country have said they provide more than 12,000 positions for resettlements from Turkey. Around 2,000 resettlements are planned at present for the period May-July 2016, provided a corresponding number of Syrians return from Greece under the 1:1 programme.