Representatives of the European Union and the International Organization for Migration (IOM, the UN migration agency) met in Brussels today to discuss the way forward on some of the most pressing issues linked to migration, including managing migration flows, better protection of vulnerable migrants, the UN Global Compact on Migration, cooperation on forced displacement and development, and on return and reintegration of migrants.
While important progress has been achieved and the number of deaths at sea has significantly decreased, a large number of crossings still happen along the Central Mediterranean route and many migrants are faced with dire conditions along their journeys. The EU has already made an enormous effort, and cooperation with partners is essential to effectively take work forward. To this end, the EU together with the African Union and the United Nations set up a Taskforce in November 2017 to help people along the route, in particular Libya.
The Emergency Trust Fund for Africa complements the long-standing and comprehensive partnership that European Union and Africa enjoy together. Established at the Valletta Summit on Migration in November 2015, the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa was created to address the root causes of instability, forced displacement and irregular migration and to contribute to better migration management.
Over the past 20 years, the European Union has put in place some of the highest common asylum standards in the world. And in the past two years, European migration policy has advanced in leaps and bounds with the European Agenda on Migration proposed by the Juncker Commission in May 2015. Europe is a continent of solidarity and will continue keeping legal pathways open for people in need of international protection.
Migration is a global issue that can only be addressed effectively by the international community as a whole. Managing the situation together with our partners remains at the top of the European agenda. To this end, the European Union continues to work relentlessly in close cooperation with Member States and international partners to save lives, provide protection, offer safe and legal pathways for migration and tackle the root causes that force people to leave their homes in first place, as well as fight the criminal networks that often take advantage of people's despair.
Thanks to the strong support of the European Union and the active cooperation of the African Union, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) assisted 15,000 migrants to return voluntarily to their homes from Libya. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has also evacuated over 1,300 refugees from Libya.
The EU has granted EUR 28 million to Serbia to strengthen the country's capacities to effectively control its borders, reducing organised crime and irregular migration, and an additional EUR 16 million to support refugees – mostly from Syria – and their host communities.
The European Union and Afghanistan have launched, in the framework of the inaugural Joint EU-Afghanistan Committee, a new phase of cooperation and partnership aiming to bolster security, good governance, economic growth and human rights.