Frontex Deputy Executive Director Berndt Körner and Nicola Bertolini of the European Commission, together with representatives of EASO, IOM and UNHCR launched an EU-funded programme for pre-accession assistance in the field of migration management during an official kick-off conference in Belgrade.
This regional support programme for the countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey aims to establish a harmonized, effective and protection-sensitive migration management in line with EU standards.
Last year, over 1 million migrants and refugees entered the EU mainly via Greece but also via Italy. Countries of Western Balkans were heavily affected by the movements of hundreds of thousands of people coming via Turkey.
“The migratory pressure on the countries of the Western Balkans has clearly demonstrated the need to strengthen border management capacities in this region. We need to build resilience of the national authorities to cope better with this type of situations in the future, but also to reinforce their bid to joining the EU and Schengen,” said Frontex Deputy Executive Director Berndt Körner.
The programme’s focus is to build the capacity of the countries in the Western Balkans and Turkey and help them improve border management systems in line with EU standards. Since the programme includes so many different elements, Frontex, the European Asylum Support Office, International Organisation for Migration and UNHCR will all be involved in its implementation.
“The humanitarian situation of the migrants along the Western Balkans route calls for urgent action using all available EU and national means to alleviate it. The current contingency planning provides a significant funding to support countries facing large numbers of refugees and migrants. The programme launched today is complementary and provides sustainable solutions for the future,” said Körner.
Effective border management includes sound border checks and surveillance capacity, identification and registration of migrants, identification of vulnerable groups and people seeking international protection, as well as well functioning asylum procedures.
“Last but not least, effective border management requires a system to return those who are not eligible for asylum back to their home countries,” said Körner.