01 March 2016
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These documents give an indication of the EU's plans as regards migration from three key East African countries, all suffering conflict and poverty. Another document exists concerning Eritrea, where the UN has documented very serious human rights abuses. However, it is not yet available publically.
The document on Somalia indicates that many Somalis are still refugees in neighbouring countries. Some attempt to come to the EU via the less safe route across the Central Mediterranean. It notes that few people are returned from the EU to Somalia, but it concludes that "it is important not to push the return of refugees/Internally Displaced Persons before the adequate security situation is in place and access to basic services is guaranteed, not to mention the obligations under International Law to ensure voluntary and dignified return." The main focus is on aid, including in response to climate change. However, the EU does plan to 'discuss a strategy' on irregular migration.
The paper on Ethiopia indicates that about half of asylum applications by Ethiopians in the EU are successful, mainly from a persecuted minority group. It also notes that: "A European Parliament resolution from 21 January 2016 strongly criticized the Government for significant and widespread human rights violations". Despite this, the paper calls for a readmission agreement to be negotiated with Ethiopia. The European Parliament resolution can be read here (pdf).
Finally, the paper on Sudan notes that 55% of asylum applications are successful. Sudan has blocked trade relations with the EU and closed an "NGO vital for providing lifesaving assistance to hundreds of thousands [of] Sudanese". With a view to public relations, the paper notes that "the EU should carefully consider the high reputational risk associated with its engagement with Sudan if exclusively focused on migration". Humanitarian aid must be offered unconditionally, so discussions on migration will therefore be tied to "positive incentives (such as discussions on ease of US economic sanctions, debt relief, effective cooperation on counter-terrorism)," which "could be provided to promote effective cooperation on return and readmission and fight against smuggling."
The paper is particularly concerned about Sudan as a transit country for refugees from East Africa (Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia), stating a desire to "increas[e] Sudan's capacity to reduce onward movements to Europe." If effective, this would push more people to travel via conflict zones in Yemen, as referred to in the other two papers.
Overall, the papers have a contrasting approach: it is recognized that returns to Somalia would be inhumane, but nevertheless the EU would like to stop Somalians and others from East Africa reaching the EU via Sudan, and conversely there is a gung-ho approach to returning people to Ethiopia despite human rights problems. In the case of Sudan, the strategy is in effect to play 'good cop', pressuring the USA to reduce its economic sanctions due to Sudan being considered a terrorism sponsor, in return for sealing off a major transit route. Needless to say, there is no mention of humanitarian visas, resettlement or any other form of safe passage for any of the people with a need for protection, even though the papers refer to human rights abuse and human trafficking in transit, and the high death rate for those crossing the Central Mediterranean is well-known.
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