Meeting virtually with officials of the European Union, members of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Migration have focused in recent days on the situation of vulnerable migrants, new asylum procedures in Europe, and providing assistance to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 amongst migrant and refugee populations.
In a discussion today with Paraskevi Michou, Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations at the European Commission, OSCE PA members heard about points of concern regarding the well-being of migrants and refugees in first recipient countries, the importance of unimpeded access to crisis areas so that humanitarian aid can be delivered to vulnerable populations, the alarming increase in gender-based violence, and the need for gender mainstreaming in humanitarian aid. Michou mentioned the importance of renewing UN Security Council Resolution 2504, which ensures that lifesaving UN aid reaches over four million Syrians and is set to expire on 10 July.
Discussions also focused on the situation on the Greek islands. Michou discussed working closely with EU member states to relieve the burden, with 17 countries supporting Greece with protective equipment. Syria remains the largest forced displacement crisis in the world, she said, with millions of displaced people who are food insecure – a situation more precarious now due to COVID-19.
“The international community has a responsibility to increase humanitarian assistance to refugees and migrants, especially those affected by the Syrian conflict, and to contribute to building economic resilience in host countries to help them deal with the crisis now and months ahead,” said the Acting Chair of the OSCE PA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Migration, Vice-President Margareta Cederfelt (Sweden). “As we deal with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, we should not forget the most vulnerable members of our societies who can play an instrumental role in the recovery process if given the chance.”
On Friday, Monique Pariat, the Director-General of the European Commission’s Migration and Home Affairs Department, addressed Ad Hoc Committee on Migration members about the importance of solidarity and addressing migration in a comprehensive way. Noting the need for dealing with every stage of migration, it is important, she said, to understand the motivations of people wanting to move and to improve co-operation with countries of origin.
Other topics of discussion included integrating solid migration management into co-operation agreements, enhancing legal migration pathways, enforcing border control, and establishing “mandatory solidarity” in cases of search and rescue, pressure, and situations of crisis. Participants also discussed how to ensure fairness in easing the burden on countries of entry and how the United Kingdom can participate in the EU’s migration policies following Brexit.
Participating in the meetings were Ad Hoc Committee Acting Chair Cederfelt and members Lord Alfred Dubs (United Kingdom), Hedy Fry (Canada), Gudrun Kugler (Austria), Kyriakos Hadjiyianni (Cyprus), and Elona Gjebrea Hoxha (Albania).