Migration Policy Practice - December 2014 - January 2015 Issue
December 2014 - January 2015
December 2014 - January 2015
MAR 2, 2015
LONDON – In the last year, more than 4,000 men, women, and children have lost their lives attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Africa to Europe. Their tragic deaths have done nothing to slow the human tide, which is swelling by the week, as smugglers on the coast become increasingly brazen and cruel. Thousands of migrants have been rescued from the frigid waters since the beginning of this year alone.
Against this backdrop – and that of the fear sown by the terrorist attacks in Paris and Copenhagen – the European Union is set to develop a new – and critically important – agenda on migration. When EU commissioners gather to debate how to proceed, they must overcome the temptation to grasp at short-term, knee-jerk solutions, and instead develop a truly creative, comprehensive plan of action both at home and abroad.
The last time Europe faced such a turning point on migration was in 2011, when the Arab Spring triggered a flood of new arrivals fleeing violence and chaos in North Africa. But the moment for bold action – the creation of a Mediterranean Marshall Plan that would channel investment into immigrant integration – passed without being seized. Instead, the EU made a few bureaucratic tweaks to its asylum system and consumed itself with debates about non-issues, such as migrant “welfare cheats."
In 2014, the EU's emergency funding for migration and asylum totaled a mere €25 million ($28 million) – a pathetic exercise in collective action, albeit one supplemented by funds from member states. Last fall, Italy's bold Mare Nostrum sea-rescue operation, which had saved hundreds of lives, was replaced by a far feebler EU initiative that has struggled to carry out its mission.
Adding to the problem is an imbalance of commitment and compassion within the EU itself. Sweden and Germany have taken in the majority of asylum seekers from Syria and elsewhere, while most other EU member states have admitted few or none. The UK, for example, offered just 90 resettlement spots for Syrian refugees last year. (By contrast, Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan are spending billions of dollars to host nearly four million refugees.)
Greece, Italy, and Malta have borne the brunt of the impact of accommodating new arrivals, with all of the financial, social, and political costs this entails. As a result, the ongoing tragedy in the Mediterranean is placing EU solidarity under serious strain.
Continued inaction will not make the problem go away, nor will it benefit European leaders in their next domestic elections. “Cracking down on smugglers," the go-to solution for many in the EU, will take many years to have an impact, given the instability of many North African governments. Meanwhile, further destabilization of the Middle East – a very real prospect – could compromise the security of tens of millions of people who, under international law, would have a legitimate right to claim asylum.
A better, more active approach is needed. The immediate necessary response is resource-intensive but operationally viable: a robust joint EU sea operation with an explicit rescue mandate.
When asylum seekers reach European shores, the EU should take collective financial and administrative responsibility for processing and accommodating them, regardless of where they disembark. And it should take solidarity a step further when it comes to Syrians, equitably distributing the responsibility to host them across all member states.
Meanwhile, in order to lighten smugglers' boats, the EU should commit to resettling many more than the 30,000 Syrian refugees it has pledged to accept thus far. A number closer to 250,000, at least, would seem fair – given the millions being sheltered by Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan.
Meanwhile, EU foreign ministers should intensify talks with African countries in order to establish new, legal, and safe means for those at risk who want to cross the Mediterranean. This could entail extending humanitarian, labor, and family-reunification visas, with applications processed overseas. The EU should consider longer-term goals, like creating a common Mediterranean market to allow North African economies to grow, eventually transforming the region into a destination for migrants rather than a transit zone.
Most important, Europe needs to strengthen itself from the inside out. The continent is in desperate need of a dramatically different approach to diversity. The countries of the EU have two options: They can either make a vain attempt to revert to outdated, mono-ethnic models of statehood, or they can accept diversity with the realization that their national cultures will not only survive, but flourish.
Doing so would in no way entail compromising any core European values. But it would require a commitment to respect all who adopt those values, regardless of their race or religion. Some see the Mediterranean as Europe's soft underbelly. But it is the failure to build stable, diverse societies that is the continent's true Achilles heel.
Peter Sutherland, Chairman of the London School of Economics and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for International Migration and Development, is former Director General of the World Trade Organization, EU Commissioner for Competition, and Attorney General of Ireland.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
by INQUIRER.net US Bureau
Philippine Daily Inquirer
by INQUIRER.net US Bureau
'Whether it's for professional growth, familial ties, or personal relations, more and more Filipinos are now buying a one-way-ticket back to the Philippines,' says the Commission on Filipinos Overseas
"This is a trend that continues to increase, and that's good news. We have always encouraged overseas Filipinos to come to the Philippines whether for a visit or to stay for good," said Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) Chairperson Imelda Nicolas.MANILA, Philippines – Balikbayan is a term often used to desrcibe anyone who "comes home" to the Philippines, whether temporarily or permanently. The government is, however, looking at something that might just become a trend: "Are balikbayans now returning to the motherland for good?"
The CFO is hosting the ongoing 3rd annual Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora in Manila.
As of 2012, said the CFO, 10.5 million Filipinos reside overseas. Of that population, 47% are permanent migrants, 40% are temporary migrants, while 13% are "irregular" or undocumented migrants.
Jo Anne Coruña, 31, returned from the Untied States 7 years of study. She left her family in the Bay Area to return home and start a new family. Now she and her husband, Dr Chinkin Coruña, a top orthopedic surgeon, are enjoying the "simpler life" in Bacolod City.
The CFO said in a statement, "Whether it's for professional growth, familial ties, or personal relations, more and more Filipinos are now buying a one-way-ticket back to the Philippines. And we're not just talking about Manila."
The commission cited recent economic developments in the country to be behind this trend, and encouraged Filipinos overseas to go beyond sending money back home and instead consider returning to the Philippines for good.
"While we appreciate the remittances of our kababyans abroad, that contribute to the country's GDP growth while helping support their families, their will to share their talents and passions within the homeland is their greatest gift," Nicolas said.
The CFO said it has been actively encouraging Diaspora to Development (D2D) programs like Alay Dunong (sharing knowledge and skills) and Balik Turo (coming home to teach or mentor).
The CFO's 3rd global summit's theme this year is "Vision and Action for the Diaspora, 2015 and Beyond." The event's workshops will be held from February 25 to 27 at the Manila Hotel in Manila. – Rappler.com