On 17-18 October, the Expert Meeting on Preventing Facilitation of Irregular Migration took place in Kyiv. The event was co-hosted by Ukraine and Lithuania with the support of the European Commission and the IOM Mission in Ukraine under the framework of the Eastern Partnership Panel on Migration and Asylum.
The issue of preventing the facilitation of irregular migration is of great importance worldwide. According to IOM, in 2016 alone 7,934 migrant deaths were recorded worldwide, more than half of them while being smuggled. These numbers demand an adequate response of all stakeholders: countries of origin, transit and destination, intergovernmental organizations, civil society and the international community as a whole. The recent upsurge of migrants using a Black Sea route will require more attention and adequate response of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) states. The Expert Meeting provided a unique occasion for discussions and sharing experiences between representatives from the European Commission, EUROPOL, EUBAM, EU Member States, EaP countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine), Serbia, UN agencies and international organizations, (IOM, UNODC, ICMPD), academia and civil society.
The meeting started with welcome statements from Mr. Robert Rybicki and Ms. Silja Kasmann, European Commission Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG Home), Mr. Maksym Sokoliuk, Head of the State Migration Service of Ukraine, Mr. Algirdas Stoncaitis, Chancellor of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania, and Ms. Alessia Schiavon, Senior Programme Coordinator at the IOM Mission in Ukraine.
Mr. Robert Rybicki, DG Home, stressed that countering the facilitation of irregular migration is important “for both who are struggling on the frontline of the migration crisis and also for those who are less affected by it as they can see how to prepare for what may come.”
“In the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants adopted in 2016, the United Nations Member States reaffirmed the importance of the existing international instruments on preventing and combatting trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants, as well as their obligations under international law to vigorously combat these phenomena,” reminded Ms. Alessia Schiavon, IOM Ukraine.
Over the two-day EaP Panel meeting, participants addressed legal solutions and best practices of countering facilitation of irregular migration. Importance of interagency, cross-border and international cooperation for effective responses to the phenomenon of migrant smuggling, as well as the humanitarian dimension of preventing the facilitation of irregular migration and respecting human rights of all migrants, were the focus of the discussions.
On the second day the participants were invited to take part in an interactive session “Interagency and Cross-Border Cooperation for the Analysis and Investigation of Facilitated Irregular Migration: Strategies and Best Practice“, which was moderated by Mr. Razvan Budeanu, Head of Field Operation of EUBAM and Mr. Ben Nicholls, Seconded National Expert of EUROPOL. The participants worked on a case study, followed by a productive discussion and exchange of experiences. As highlighted by Mr. Budeanu, the main goal of the session was to harness the experience of the participants and draw from their individual working environments such as border police, migration and asylum, police, justice, diplomatic, or civil society – and to identify potential steps to be taken by each country to enhance their capacity to better combat facilitation of irregular migration. As a result of the interactive session, participants identified a range of recommendations for consideration by their governments, and suggested numerous best practices to enhance information exchange, risk analysis and investigation of migrant smuggling cases.
At the end of the meeting, participants were invited to watch the movie, “Becky’s Journey” directed by Dr. Sine Plambech from the Danish Institute for International Studies. The movie demonstrated the complexity of the migrant smuggling phenomenon and interrelation of this dangerous transnational crime with human trafficking, sexual exploitation and human rights violations.
The next Panel meeting will be devoted to economic integration of migrants, co-organized by Poland and Georgia on 14-15 December in Warsaw.