Hotspots for relocation in Italy and Greece: the CGRS sends experts on the spot
The present migration in the EU is unprecedented. At the beginning of October, 575,000 persons had arrived from across the Mediterranean in 2015, almost 450,000 of whom in Greece alone. Nearly all these migrants travel further to other countries in the European Union, mainly Germany and Sweden, but also to other EU countries, among which Austria, Holland, Finland and also Belgium. Since the summer of 2015, all of these countries are faced with an exponential increase of the number of asylum seekers. In January 2015, approximately 66,000 asylum applications were filed in the entire EU, in July, almost 120,000 asylum applications were filed and in August and September, the number of asylum applications increased even more.
In September 2015, Belgium registered 5,512 asylum applications, i.e. an increase of more than 300 % compared to January 2015.
What does the EU do?
Since the beginning of the crisis in spring, the European Union has taken an unseen number of proposals and decisions. The European Agenda on Migration of 13 May 2015 contains a large number of measures to deal with the crisis in the short, medium and long term.
One of the most important actions contained in the European Agenda on Migration is the support of Greece and Italy by relocating asylum seekers. Over a period of two years, other EU Member States will receive 160,000 asylum seekers with a high chance of being granted refugee status (Syrians, Eritreans and Iraqi nationals). For this relocation, a fixed distribution key is used.
For the time being, Belgium should receive 3.794 asylum seekers.
The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) plays an important role in operationalizing the relocation mechanism in Greece and Italy, mainly in the so-called hotspots. In these hotspots, several EU agencies (EASO, Frontex and Europol) work together with the national authorities to register and inform asylum seekers and, if possible, to select them for relocation to another EU Member State.
What does the CGRS do?
The CGRS assumes its responsibility and actively takes part in the startup phase of the hotspots for the execution of the EU relocation program.
On 27 September 2015, a CGRS expert left for Sicily. She works together with Italian colleagues and colleagues from other EU Member States in a hotspot near Agrigento, where the ferries with asylum seekers from Lampedusa arrive. The tasks of this team mainly consist of registering and informing asylum seekers about a possible relocation to another EU country.
The CGRS has also offered a second expert to EASO to render assistance also this year to Italy or Greece, within the framework of the hotspots.