The first Panel meeting of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) Migration and Asylum Panel in 2016 took place in Chisinau on 14-15 April and was devoted to the pressing topic of irregular migration and trafficking in human beings in the context of the current migration crisis in Europe. The event co-hosted by Moldova and Poland provided an opportunity for the representatives of the European Union (EU) Member States (MS) and institutions, EaP countries, international organizations and civil society to harmonize their knowledge and share the most recent information regarding the dimension and dynamics of irregular migration as well as the impact of the migration crisis on human trafficking.
Presentations delivered by the EU External Border Agency Frontex and the EU Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM), as well as the written contributions submitted by the countries participating to the Panel meeting, showed that individual EU MS are affected by the crisis to different extent while none of the EaP countries was significantly affected by the crisis. At the same time, as Frontex’s analysis shows, migratory routes may change due to policies and measures adopted by concerned states. This implies that the countries in the region need to be ready to react to the changing migratory tendencies.
In light of the above, representatives of the migration agencies of the Czech Republic, Sweden, Ukraine and Moldova offered an overview of their governments’ preparatory and response measures. IOM Ukraine presented a summary of the relevant policies and measures adopted and applied to respond to the migration crisis by the governments of the countries participating to the Panel. These measures include restrictive border control and enhancement of border infrastructure, revision of the migration and border management related legislation, increased emphasis on trainings, close monitoring and analysis of the migration situation, cooperation with the neighboring countries, assistance to the countries of origin, fighting criminal networks of smugglers of migrants and traffickers in human beings.
In the presentation of a recent study conducted by ICMPD in the countries bordering Syria, it was evident that the migration crisis is usually accompanied by sharp increase in trafficking in human beings. The staff of the Moldovan anti-trafficking agency familiarized the audience with a case study focusing on the risks for irregular migrants to become victims of trafficking. The case study featured some atypical cases (e.g. German minors victimized in Moldova).
Human trafficking was further discussed by the representative of the European Commission outlining the EU policy and legal framework to address this phenomenon. National policies, legal norms and practices of Finland, Hungary, Poland and Ukraine were offered to the attention of the participants and predominantly related to protection of and support to victims, prevention of their potential re-trafficking, assistance in their dignified repatriation. The results of a study concentrating on male victims of trafficking, conducted in three EaP countries – Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine, – were presented by the Ukrainian researcher.
In closing, the organizers invited the participating countries to the next meeting related to the current migration crises i.e. on resettlement and other forms of humanitarian protection. The meeting will be held on 2-3 June.