Europe Keeps Asylum Seekers at a Distance, This Time in Rwanda
For three years, the European Union has been paying other countries to keep asylum seekers away from a Europe replete with populist and anti-migrant parties.
It has paid Turkey billions to keep refugees from crossing to Greece. It has funded the Libyan Coast Guard to catch and return migrant boats to North Africa. It has set up centers in distant Niger to process asylum seekers, if they ever make it that far. Most don’t. […]
It is now preparing to finish a deal, this time in Rwanda, to create yet another node that it hopes will help alleviate some of the mounting strains on its outsourcing network.
Critics say the Rwanda deal will deepen a morally perilous policy, even as it underscores how precarious the European Union’s teetering system for handling the migrant crisis has become. […]
Even as the system falters, few in the West seem to be paying much attention, and critics say that is also part of the aim – to keep a problem that has roiled European politics on the other side of Mediterranean waters, out of sight and out of mind. […]
Brussels’ funding of the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept migrant boats before they reach international waters has been extremely effective, but has left apprehended migrants vulnerable to abuses in a North African country with scant central governance and at the mercy of an anarchic, at-war state of militia rule.
A handful are resettled directly out of Libya, and a few thousand more are transferred by the United Nations refugee agency and its partner, the International Organization for Migration, to a processing center in Niger. Only some of those have a realistic shot at being granted asylum in Europe. […]
The United Nations refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration, mostly using European Union funding, have evacuated about 4,000 people to the transit center in Niger over the past two years. […]
The capacity of the center in Agadez, where smugglers also base their operations, is about 1,000. But it has at times held up to three times as many, as resettlement to Europe and North America has been slack.
Fourteen countries – 10 from the European Union, along with Canada, Norway, Switzerland and the United States – have pledged to resettle about 6,600 people either directly from Libya or from the Niger facility, according to the United Nations refugee agency.
It has taken two years to fulfill about half of those pledges, with some resettlements taking up to 12 months to process, a spokesman for the agency said.
Some countries that made pledges, such as Belgium and Finland, have taken only a few dozen people; others, like the Netherlands, fewer than 10; Luxembourg has taken none, a review of the refugee agency’s data shows.
Under the agreement with Rwanda, which is expected to be signed in the coming weeks, the east African country will take in about 500 migrants evacuated from Libya and host them until they are resettled to new homes or sent back to their countries of origin.
It will offer a way out for a lucky few, but ultimately the Rwandan center is likely to run into the same delays and problems as the one in Agadez.
“The Niger program has suffered from a lot of setbacks, hesitation, very slow processing by European and other countries, very low numbers of actual resettlements,” said Ms. Sunderland of Human Rights Watch. “There’s not much hope then that the exact same process in Rwanda would lead to dramatically different outcomes.”
Neuer EU-Deal: Ruanda und Resettlement aus Libyen