Migration crisis in the Mediterranean: tangible improvements but additional efforts are needed

More than a year since the adoption of the EU-Turkey Statement, the implemented measures have delivered some tangible results with regard to the challenges underlying the refugee and migration crisis. Since the Assembly last examined the situation one year ago, the situation in Greece has seen some improvements despite the fact that Greece has become a destination country where almost 100 per cent of newly arriving refugees and migrants request asylum, PACE said today.

Adopting a resolution based on the report prepared by Miltiadis Varvitsiotis (Greece, EPP/CD), the Assembly stated that the reception conditions and asylum procedures in Italy, even if also improving, require urgent action. As with Greece, Italy has become a destination country and continuous mass arrivals risk saturating the country’s reception capacities.

The question of return of rejected asylum seekers should be given immediate consideration; the large number of irregular migrants creates threats for the whole asylum system and social stability. The situation of unaccompanied minors in both frontline countries is of utmost concern, the parliamentarians said.

The resolution identifies and recommends to the countries concerned the introduction of a number of measures and actions which could contribute to the improvement of the situation in the short and long terms, like maintaining “at least the present level of search and rescue operations” and enhancing the fight against smugglers and traffickers.

The parliamentarians called on the Greek authorities to continue increasing reception capacities on the islands and on the mainland and to speed up the processing of asylum applications. Italy, they said, should increase the number of adequate facilities and review asylum procedures in order to increase their efficiency, while Turkey should comply with international human rights standards including with respect to detention, access to asylum and the prohibition on refoulement, and refrain from threatening to withdraw from observing the obligations described in the EU Turkey statement.