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Saving lives has always been and is the European Union's most urgent priority. EU action has contributed to almost 730,000 rescues at sea since 2015. The EU has equally addressed land routes, together with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and supported for example search and rescue operations in the Nigerien desert.
"Migration stays as a global challenge that can be tackled, as we've chosen to do as the EU, through joint work and strong partnerships", the High Representative particularly stressed.
The EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration proved vital for baby Siaka who first saw light in a transit centre operated by IOM in Burkina Faso. Siaka's mother Aminata left Liberia together with her husband to reach Algeria and work there. The hardship along the route made the couple decide to go back to Liberia via Burkina Faso.
"I was sick, penniless and desperately looking to go back home. An IOM staff I met at the bus station in Ouagadougou told me to seek assistance from IOM. A few days later, I discovered I was pregnant", Aminata remembers.
The doctor from the local health facility in Burkina Faso recalls that "when she arrived in Ouagadougou, Aminata was sick and it was impossible for her to travel". Since Aminata left Liberia without knowing about her pregnancy, her son might have been born somewhere along the route or even at sea.
The EU's and IOM's support to Aminata and baby Siaka is one of the many stories which show the impact of the joint work. Since its creation the Joint Initiative has assisted over 62,100 migrants with post-arrival reception and reintegration assistance.
The successful cooperation by the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations has further helped more than 42,000 migrants to return voluntarily from Libya to their countries of origin, with reintegration assistance.
With EU support, over 3,100 refugees have been evacuated from Libya, of which almost 2,500 to Niger under the Emergency Transit Mechanism with the UNHCR in view of further resettlement.
Providing people with opportunities at home and fighting poverty, climate change as well as instability and violence – among the root causes of irregular migration – are key areas of the European Union's work.
To that end, the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) has been instrumental in facilitating political and policy dialogues with partner countries, working towards common solutions in a spirit of shared responsibility and partnership.
Over 5.3 million vulnerable people currently benefit from basic support through the EUTF and 41,000 jobs have been created or facilitated.
"We will continue to cooperate with our international partners and with the countries concerned to provide protection for people most in need, address the root causes of migration, dismantle the traffickers' networks", High Representative Mogherini said.