Displacement, disaster, development

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC)World Disasters Report 2012 focuses on forced migration and on the people forcibly displaced by conflict, political upheaval, violence, disasters, climate change and development projects.

The enormous human costs of forced migration – destroyed homes and livelihoods, increased vulnerability, disempowered communities, and collapsed social networks and common bonds – demand urgent and decisive action by both humanitarian and development actors.

I was one of over fifty contributors to this year’s report edited by Professor Roger Zetter, former director of the Refugee Studies Centre at University of Oxford. I was charged with a box on the Arab Uprisings and forced displacement – all in 1,000 words. You can read my piece at page 36-37. The full report is available here: http://www.ifrc.org/PageFiles/99703/1216800-WDR%202012-EN-LR.pdf

The video of my brief contribution to yesterday’s launch event at ODI in London is also available: http://t.co/HFxGzWuC I focused on the EU and EUMS’s ambigous responses to displacement caused by the events that have accompanied the Arab Uprisings, especially in Libya and Syria. Two  figures are very telling of the lack of generosity displayed by the EU: a) to date only 17,000 Syrians have managed to claim asylum in one of the 27 EUMS while over 340,000 are currently seeking refugee in Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon; b) a UNHCR appeal for the resettlement of about 8,000 quota refugees from the region only managed to successfully place less than 1,000 refugees in EU countries.

Is this the end of Schengen? Germany, Austria and Finland want to restore border controls

Germany, Austria and Finland are considering the unilateral restoration of border controls for passengers and vectors coming from Greece. In statements made by the Austrian and German Interior Ministers at the meeting of the Council of Interior Ministers of 8 March 2012, the two ministers expressed their concerns about Greece’s inability to effectively control flows of illegal immigrants at its land borders with Turkey. In a written question to the EU Commission, the Greek MEP Georgios Papanikolaou asked for the EC Commission’s view. Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs responds (E-002940/2012):

The Commission shares the concerns about the flow of irregular migrants into Greece, in particular through the external border withTurkey and has put in place a comprehensive strategy to tackle this problem, elements of which are of an operational nature involving the FRONTEX agency […]  At the same time, the Commission continues to encourage the Turkish authorities to sign the readmission agreement it has negotiated with the European Union, fully implementing its existing readmission obligations to better prevent irregular migration generally and to cooperate with EUROPOL and FRONTEX in this endeavour.

 As regards the possible reintroduction of internal border controls between Member States inside the Schengen area, the Commission […] recalls that this is only possible – as an exceptional and temporary measure by a Member State – when it is considered necessary on account of a serious threat to public policy or internal security.