North Africa: EU Contributes €29.6 Mln for Migrants Protection & Fight against Smugglers

The European Union has earmarked €29.6 million to fund new programs destined to protect migrants and fight against smugglers and traffickers in Africa and the Mediterranean region.

Supported by EU Trust Fund for Africa, these programs will strengthen the migrants’ protection, support their sustainable reintegration or voluntary return as well as combat the criminal networks across the region, says a European Commission press release.

Ten million Euros will go to IMO’s program for migrant protection & reintegration in North Africa. This program supports ongoing efforts of migrants’ voluntary return. It will enhance protection of migrants, support sustainable reintegration systems in North Africa and provide assisted voluntary return to migrants wishing to return to their home from Northern Africa.

Fifteen million Euros have been allocated to the program seeking to dismantle the criminal networks operating in North Africa and involved in migrant smuggling and human trafficking.

This project will focus on regional dimension of fight against smugglers and traffickers. It will target the public sector of the countries in the region (in particular the Ministries of Interior, Justice, Finance, and Health).

Under this program, implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), capacity-building as well as light equipment, such as IT and forensic tools, will be provided to actors dealing with law enforcement and criminal justice.
The final beneficiaries will be the general public, victims of trafficking, smuggled migrants, and families of the latter two categories.

Morocco will receive €4.58 million for migrants’ legal empowerment. This program implemented by the Belgian Technical Cooperation will reinforce the protection and resilience of migrants and refugees, displaced persons and host communities in the North African Kingdom.

Whilst strengthening awareness on their rights and access to legal counseling, the project will also contribute to promote the socio-economic integration of migrants and facilitate migrants’ integration in the Moroccan society.

This is a new very specific action complementing the EU support to the implementation of the Moroccan National Strategy on Migration (SNIA). The program will support actors who help migrants and refugees access to their rights, such as lawyers, students, civil society associations and justice staff. It will develop and create legal clinics in Rabat, Casablanca, Tangier and Oujda.

A joint EU/AU/UN Task Force was set up last week to protect migrants and refugees and fight the criminal networks.

These new programs step up EU commitments to save lives, guarantee the respect of human rights of migrants, and provide alternatives to those wishing to return to their homes and support host communities.

“We already assisted over 14,000 people stranded in Libya to return and will support an additional 15,000 returns by February 2018. And we will support our partners to counter traffickers and smugglers, assisting them in bringing peace and security to the region”, said EU foreign policy Chief Federica Mogherini.

Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn said: “The current challenges in the Mediterranean Sea remain a top priority for the European Union. The EU Trust Fund for Africa continues to take action to tackle the root causes of irregular migration and to defend the rights of people who risk falling into the hands of traffickers and smugglers”.

He also said that the new programs will “help dismantle criminal networks in North of Africa, support migrants who wish to return to their home countries and facilitate access for migrants to legal advice. We will also promote socio-economic integration in Morocco and will foster socio-economic development of Libya”.

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