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Presenting the fourth quarterly progress report on the Partnership Framework on Migration on 13 June, High Representative Federica Mogherini said the EU comprehensive partnership approach had delivered tangible results within the last year, and would be further intensified to ensure a sustainable and human-focused approach to migration.
Ms. Mogherini said: "One year ago, we launched the Partnership Framework based on the conviction that managing migration requires partnership and a comprehensive approach, based on the protection of the rights of migrants, on the fight against the traffickers of human beings, on the work on the root causes starting from poverty, conflicts and climate change.
"We have been working on a daily basis with the five priority countries and many others in the Sahel region, in West Africa and in the Horn of Africa. This common work has brought tangible progresses, among others on the fight against traffickers. And on assisted voluntary returns: since the beginning of 2017 more than 4,000 migrants voluntarily returned from Libya to their countries of origin, under the programme run in cooperation with International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
"We will keep working to increase even further cooperation with our African partners, to ensure that lives are saved, migrants are treated in dignity, and to make sure that we eradicate together the business model of those who exploit human despair."
The report shows that the Partnership has stimulated partner countries in Africa to better tackle irregular migration and to fight smuggling networks. Joint efforts have helped increase assisted voluntary returns of stranded migrants, and supported job creation and social projects. European Migration Liaison Officers in 12 partner countries help facilitate this process.
The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa has so far provided €2.8 billion in support of 118 projects for job creation, access to education or border management in key countries. An additional €90 has been allocated to enable the IOM and other international partners to better to support communities and migrants in Libya. The EU's naval operation in the Mediterranean has so far rescued 37,000 migrants, disposed of 447 vessels and arrested 110 smugglers.
Increased cooperation with international partners such as the IOM and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has also been successful in ensuring the full respect of migrants' human rights.