Resettlement goes well, news on relocation not good enough
Up to now, safe legal pathways to Europe were given to 13,968 persons
Maria Koleva, Brussels
10 February, 2017
Member States have continued to increase their efforts on resettlement, offering legal and safe pathways to 13,968 people so far, shows the 9th progress report on the EU's emergency relocation and resettlement schemes, adopted by the College of Commissioners on 8 February. It indeed assesses actions taken during the last two months, since 8 December 2016. On the relocation side, the report indicates that the overall positive trend has been maintained with an additional 3,813 relocations taking place during the reporting period, and 1,926 - the highest monthly number since the inception of the mechanism, was registered in December last year. In December, 764 people in need of protection were relocated from Italy and 1,162 from Greece, and in January the figures show 551 persons relocated from Italy and 1,131 from Greece. Two months ago the Commission called on EU member countries to increase their efforts to meet the targets of 1,000 monthly relocations from Italy and 2,000 from Greece. All in all, relocations made so far are 11,966. The Commission urges that further efforts are still needed from EU member countries to sustain the progress made and reach the monthly targets set by the Commission. Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the EC, presenting the report to the press said that “sadly on relocation, the news is not as good”, making comparison with the steady performance in the field of resettlement. We have seen a steady pick up in recent months and also saw a record monthly total in December, with just under 2,000 relocations from Greece and Italy, bringing us to a total of almost 12,000, he said adding that “while we welcome the increased engagement of Member States, we are still not at the level that we need to be, in particular to help those waiting in Greece.” According to Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, “the past months have seen progress on both relocation and resettlement, but for our efforts to match the scale of the challenge in both the EU frontline Member States as well as our neighbourhood, more needs to be done, and faster.” Relocating all those eligible in Italy and Greece is possible but it takes political will, commitment and perseverance of all Member States to make it happen, the commissioner opined. Performance under the resettlement scheme kept steady dynamics, opening legal avenues to Europe for people in need of international protection to 13,968 so far. We are at over 50% of the 22,000 target set in July 2015, first EC VP Timmermans noted. For the last two months, 21 EU countries have accepted 913 refugees coming mostly from Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. As the report indicates, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Finland and the Netherlands as well as associated countries Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland have already fulfilled their pledges in this respect. Next report on both schemes will be tabled in March.
An elderly woman holds a placard as Afghan refugees stage a protest in the former airport of Athens which is used as a refugee camp.