On 1 October I was invited to give a talk to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs on migration by the Africa Group. The talk was a high level overview of migration myths, trends, and current developments in Africa. It was great discussion and I am grateful for the opportunity to present and share my take on migration issues. The presentation concluded with my four recommendations for the ministry to consider:
1) Migration should not be viewed as problem- This statement has been clearly made by Maastricht University esteemed professors Hein de Haas, Khalid Koser and Ron Skeldon on multiple occasions. Migration is a complex social phenomenon that cannot be stopped.
2) Our current global challenge is not to stop the migration problem, but to meet the imminent protection needs of the worlds growing number of refugees. Policies should therefore be focused on meeting the protection needs. There is no evidence that the number of migrants coming to Europe is going to decrease in the near future. There are four million Syrians in Turkey alone and as the conflict in Syria continues, which will become a protracted refugee crisis next year, people are looking for long term homes and solutions.
3) Provide support to frontline EU countries. Approximately 200,000 migrants have entered Greece so far this year with 50,000 arrivals alone in July. These numbers are staggering. Both asylum seekers and refugees do not have access to housing, free healthcare or social benefits in Greece, which is understandable given the current financial crisis (see my previous blog post on migrants’ arrival in Athens). If Greece were to receive support from other EU countries it is possible that they would be able to host migrants without them trying to move onwards in the EU.
4) Provide further assistance to UNHCR. This year the UN has only received 35% of the budget needed to support Syrian refugees. In Istanbul, Syrian refugees received dates for their first asylum interview as late as 2019. Since 2013, Afghans have not even been able to apply for asylum with UNHCR in Turkey. There is a clear need for further support to UNHCR to be able effectively meets the needs of these refugee caseloads.
The lecture is available to watch here.