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Expert Meeting on Border and Migration Management in Emergency Situations

Man-made and natural disasters can cause complex mobility patterns and large-scale migration flows. Unusually big numbers of people fleeing from crisis can appear at the external borders of any country. How to ensure that the authorities – in the first instance the border authorities, but also immigration, police, customs, healthcare, armed forces – are prepared to respond appropriately to cross-border movements arising from disasters? How this response can guarantee protection of crisis-affected migrants and their human rights and interests while at the same time respecting national sovereignty and security?

Experts from the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, European Union (EU) member-states as well as Serbia and Turkey, international and non-governmental organizations gathered in Budapest on 23-24 March to share their experience and vision of emergency/humanitarian border management. The meeting was organized by Hungary and Moldova with support from the European Commission (EC) and the Mission of International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Ukraine.

Following the introductory words by Mr. Robert Rybicki from the EC, Mr. Matyas Hegyaljai, Deputy State Secretary for EU and International Affairs of the Ministry of Interior of Hungary and Ms. Olesea Cotoman from the Bureau for Migration and Asylum of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Moldova, IOM Ukraine provided an overview of the countries’ national experiences related to migration and border management in emergency situations and preparatory measures applied by them.

First thematic session was devoted to international and national legal frameworks regulating border regime and migration in emergency situations. Dr. Vera Honuskova from the Charles University in Prague presented an overview of the international and EU legal frameworks while also reflecting whether these frameworks answer to protection needs and how sufficient this answer is. Dr. Boldizsar Nagy from the Central European University in Hungary argued whether the crisis which evolved in Europe in 2015 can be considered a European refugee crisis or rather a crisis of the European asylum and migration management system. Representatives of Moldova, Hungary and Romania highlighted changes having been introduced into their countries’ legal acts in the context of the current migration crisis, including those regulating visa issuance, border crossing, asylum procedure.

During sessions II and III various changes related to emergency situations were discussed. The EC described institutional transformations within Frontex which became the European Border and Coast Guard Agency in October 2016. A speaker from Ukraine explained how organizational arrangements were adapted in 2014 to respond to the needs of the Ukrainian displaced population who sought protection in Poland. The meeting participants also had an opportunity to hear about infrastructural and technical changes made by Hungary, Italy, Bulgaria and Serbia at their borders.

The most voluminous session IV covered different modalities of cooperation and coordination between various actors and their respective roles in emergency situations at the national and international level. Dr. M. Murat Erdogan from the Hacettepe University in Turkey emphasized the need for scientific research on root causes and results of mass migration and presented findings of the research projects on forced migration and refugees conducted in Turkey. Representative of UNHCR spoke about the Agency’s Refugee Coordination Model; EASO – about its support in the hotspots in Greece and Italy as well as good examples of cooperation with UNHCR; IOM – about the concept of humanitarian border management and good practices acquired by the Organization in the countries facing situations of mass influx of migrants; WHO – about the Organization’s assistance to the countries including assessment of their health-system capacities to address public health aspects of migration.

Mr. Thomas Hackl from Caritas Romania and Ms. Aniko Bernat from TARKI Social Research Institute in Hungary described the involvement of civilian organizations into relief work in the crisis circumstances: from grassroots initiatives to formal NGOs and to large charities often linked to a church.

Presenters were addressed with plentiful questions during the sessions and on the margins of the meeting which was natural taking into account the significance of the topic for the EU MS, EaP and third bordering countries.

Organising countries: 
Hungary and Moldova
23-24 March 2017
  The Project is funded
by the European
The Project is implemented
by the International
Organization for Migration