One year on: EU’s approach to migration is failing

Published: 21st June 2017

12 months ago the EU launched a partnership approach for working with African countries on managing migration. To date this has failed to provide safe and regular channels for migration or offer long-term solutions that improve the lives of people on the move, said Oxfam today.
European heads of state and government, meeting today in Brussels, are backing policies that directly contradict the interests and needs of African countries. The EU’s short-term approach to migration has not been based on true partnership between the continents, nor does it deliver sustainable opportunities for safe and regular mobility within African countries, which is an essential component of regional development. Instead, the EU’s approach is eroding the rights of people forced to leave their homes, and is failing to protect minorities, women, children and the elderly.
Natalia Alonso, Oxfam International Deputy Director for Advocacy and Campaigns, said: “The EU says it wants to reduce incentives for irregular migration, increase safe channels and improve conditions in countries of origin. But if the current approach continues, it risks threatening the resilience and autonomy of already fragile states and increasing dependency on aid. A new approach is needed.”
While African countries are looking to promote integration policies and increase local financial opportunities, the EU has based its approach on deterrence strategies that push people into the hands of smugglers and forces them to take more dangerous routes.
Apollos Nwafor, Oxfam’s Pan Africa Director, said: "While many African countries are taking in large numbers of people, Europe with its massive resources is trying to escape its responsibility for protecting refugees and other migrants. Some African governments are changing their approach and copying the European template – but we need a global response where everybody accepts their fair share, not a chain reaction where no one takes responsibility.”
The Migration Partnership Framework of June 2016 was an ambitious attempt to harness the collective power of the EU to negotiate with African countries. However, more than 100 NGOs, including Oxfam, warned that the agreement would create an unacceptable conditionality between development aid and the EU's political objectives, in violation of human rights and established aid principles. That warning is being fulfilled now.

Notes to editors

1. Oxfam and 17 other NGOs have issued a joint statement on the migration debate which includes several recommendations for European leaders ahead of this week’s European Council. The statement focused on how to ensure the protection of human rights when integrating migration governance into European foreign policy.

The statement has been signed by the following NGOs:

  • Amnesty International
  • Care International 
  • CNCD-11.11.11
  • Danish Refugee Council 
  • EuroMed Rights
  • European Evangelical Alliance 
  • ICMC Europe 
  • Medecins du Monde 
  • Minority Rights Group Europe -Minority Rights Group International 
  • Norwegian Refugee Council
  • Open Society 
  • European Policy Institute 
  • Oxfam
  • PAX
  • Plan International
  • Save the Children
  • Terre des Hommes
  • Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen 

2. Oxfam calls for a new approach that takes into account the needs of people on the move, the reasons for their movement, and the possibility of people on both continents benefitting from a well governed approach:

  • Development aid must not be diverted from its purpose of eradicating poverty, reducing inequality, and meeting humanitarian needs. 
  • European support for border management in third countries must aim to increase the security and protection for individuals, and not increase risks, abuses, or the vulnerability of migrants. 
  • Europe must maintain its search and rescue operations and conduct them with the sole objective of saving lives. 
  • The EU should systematically monitor the impact of its own migration policies, to ensure protection concerns are addressed and human rights respected. 
  • Europe must create safer, more transparent regular options, both temporary and permanent, for people on the move.

Contact information

Jamie Osborn | | Tel +32 (0)2 234 11 29  | Skype: jamie.osborn8

Attila Kulcsar | | mobile: +44 7471 142974 | Skype: LondonW1 | @attilalondon

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