The future of immigration is played out on the African table

by Giuseppe Terranova - 2017.09.08
The future of immigration is played out on the African table
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It’s official. Thanks to the Court of Justice of the European Union, it is now clear, that the “no” of the countries of Eastern Europe to the redistribution of refugees arrived in Italy and Greece is based on one thing: political egoism. A truth that for Carlotta Sam, spokesperson of the UNHCR, is “wonderful news”. Because, as she explained in the course of an interview at the Roman headquarters of the UN Agency for Refugees, “it confirms the obligation of solidarity between the European countries in the management of asylum seekers”. An obligation that, the heart of the problem of all problems, can represent the linchpin “to overcome rationally the limitations of the Dublin regulation” that download on the countries of first arrival (mainly Rome and Athens) the duty of registering and accepting refugee-status candidates.

However, not only the EU Judges, have lifted the spirits of the spokesperson of the UNHCR. The conclusions of the Paris summit on migration held on 28 August have also helped. Because “for the first time the most important EU countries (Spain, Germany, France, Italy) sat down around a table to analyse, in a serious and profound manner, solutions for the management of migrants and refugees towards Europe with their African partners”.

The French capital has in fact witnessed decisions that are not only important but without precedent.

That foresee, amongst other things, the involvement of the UNHCR (in collaboration with the IOM) in the management and assistance of asylum seekers in Chad and Niger. Where “we will have a double mission for which the details are still to be negotiated with the European and African governments and institutions. The first: strengthen and implement the system of refugee acceptance in Chad and Niger. This means, for example, that we will verify and ensure that those who are accepted in these countries are guaranteed the standards established by the Convention of Ginevra of 1951. The second: select amongst the refugees already registered in our camps in Nigeria and Chad (as well as in other African countries) a list of particularly vulnerable subject to be re-sited via legal channels, based on a commitment stull to be formalised in EU countries”. This last aspect considered by Carlotta Sami to be “crucial”. For the simple reason that “if we put the brakes on illegal departures we must take responsibility for opening legal channels for the refugees. Based on the refugees that the UNHCR has registered in Western, Eastern and Central Africa, we estimate that our list of most vulnerable people and therefore candidate for re-siting could reach 38,000”.

But which European countries are prepared to accept responsibility?

The answer will come from the outcome of negotiations started in Paris that are still to be concluded. In the first instance, we are asking for 40,000 placements”.

Who will help out those migrants who live in the Libyan hell on earth?

We consider Libya to be an insecure country. For those who are in conditions of extreme emergency we are considering the option of activating, as is already the case in Costa Rica and Romania, an Evacuation Transit Mechanism (ETM) that will see the emergency transfer of people at high risk towards Niger: it is an essential protection tool.

In general, our local staff offer assistance, coordinated by Roberto Mignone who has been the new representative of the UNHCR for Libya since June. Assistance to migrants and refugees imprisoned in Libyan detention centres to which we have partial access. To the more than 200,000 homeless people, to those who are intercepted in the sea and disembarked in the country and select possible candidates for re-siting. In this context, it is essential to extend the channels of humanitarian access”.

And how would you respond to the Italians who, for right or wrong, feel threatened by the new arrivals?

School, training and work even for those requesting asylum that are waiting for an answer to their request for protection. We cannot continue to leave them for months if not for years in a veritable state of limbo that risks turning into a formidable pool of black market labour, if all goes well. Or illegal activity, when things go wrong”.

Published in Illegal immigrants.
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