5 December 2014

Ministers of the 28 EU countries as well as Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Djibouti, Kenya, Egypt and Tunisia, as well as the European and African Union Commissioners in charge of migration and development and the EU High Representative launched on 28 November the EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative, also known as the ‘Khartoum Process’, which aims to tackle trafficking and smuggling of migrants between the Horn of Africa and Europe.

The governments agreed on assisting the participating countries in establishing and managing reception centres; cooperating in the identification and prosecution of criminal networks, while supporting victims of trafficking and protecting the human rights of smuggled migrants; and promoting sustainable development in countries of origin and transit in order to address the root causes of irregular migration.

Following his participation at the Ministerial conference, EU Commissioner Avramopoulos said the ‘Rome Declaration’ added international protection as a new pillar of cooperation to the two identified priority areas of  strengthening the link between migration and development and preventing and fighting against irregular migration. The Commissioner added that, “We will finance the first projects that will support migrants and refugees stranded along the migration routes from Eastern Africa. Moreover, EU funds have been allocated in order to help strengthen the cooperation with our African partners for the fight against smugglers and traffickers.”

Frederica Mogherini, EU High Representative on Foreign and Security Policy, stated “We need to tackle the emergencies, to deal with the dramatic conditions of people who put their lives at risk to try to find a better future, to work with countries of transition and to fight migrant smuggling. But we also need to tackle the root causes of irregular migration: poverty, conflicts, lack of resources. That’s why it is essential to develop fully all our European means. We need the impetus, support and political will from Member States and international partners, which we received these days in Rome.”

The network Democratic Eritrea asked that the Khartoum Process does not prevent the Italian government from condemning the Eritrean regime and helping the Eritreans who had to flee their country.

Eritrea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Osman Saleh is reported to have called for an urgent review of European migration policies towards Eritreans, as they are, according to Minister Saleh “to say the least, based on incorrect information”.

11,185 Eritreans applied for asylum in the EU in the second quarter or 2014, with only Syrians lodging more asylum applications during the same period (21,110). According to Eurostat, 75.4% of the asylum seekers from Eritrea who received a decision on their case in 2013 in the EU were granted international protection.


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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 5 December 2014. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.