Parliamentarians discuss migration challenges across the OSCE area in virtual meeting

Laura LungarottiLaura LungarottiCOPENHAGEN, 14 April 2021 – Meeting virtually today, members of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Migration heard a report from Laura Lungarotti, Sub-Regional Coordinator for the Western Balkans and Chief of Mission at the International Organization for Migration’s Bosnia and Herzegovina office, and discussed the committee’s ongoing work. The meeting also provided an opportunity for committee members to discuss issues in their own countries and to hear details about migration challenges across the OSCE region.

Describing the current situation in BiH, Lungarotti said that based on the numbers of refugees and migrants in the country, in her view the situation should not be called a crisis. There are roughly 6,000 people, she said, which is not particularly alarming, but what is a matter of concern is the response. She noted that BiH’s decision-making procedure is fragmented due to the administrative structure of the country, but progress has been made since last winter, including by providing appropriate shelter. Underlining that the majority of migrants are currently accommodated in two cantons, she stressed the importance of sharing responsibility for hosting migrants across the territory of BiH. Regarding the COVID-19 situation, she underlined that everyone should be included in vaccination schemes, regardless of legal status.

In a question and answer session, OSCE parliamentarians raised issues related to the broader migration situation throughout the Western Balkans.

Ad Hoc Committee Chair Margareta Cederfelt (Sweden) reported on the recent joint online visit from 22-25 March on combating trafficking in human beings along migration routes in BiH conducted with OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings Valiant Richey.

A report on this visit has just been published, which includes extensive observations and recommendations. The report’s key findings include the need to identify and assist victims of trafficking among migrants and asylum seekers, which should be reflected in local action plans, and the importance of screening new arrivals for possible needs of assistance as victims of trafficking. A more even and balanced spread of reception locations across the country is also needed, thus ensuring a more manageable workload and upholding victims’ rights, according to the report.

Members also discussed other situations of concern, including developments on Spain’s Canary Islands and Cyprus. Committee member Gwen Moore (United States) provided an overview of the situation on the US-Mexico border. In the United States, more than two million migrants, including about 800,000 families and 200,000 unaccompanied minors, are expected to present themselves to authorities by September, she said, noting that the US government is committed to handling the influx in accordance with international law, Helsinki principles and national law. Steps are being taken to reinstate protocols that would allow for people to apply for asylum in the US from their own countries, she stressed, but US authorities would not be turning back unaccompanied minors at the border.

Dimitris Markopoulos (Greece) shared information about the situation in his country, and particularly on the Greek islands, noting that much progress had been made to improve reception capacities and that Greece is working hard to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to migrants.

Committee Chair Cederfelt reported on the 5 March House of Lords event entitled “Refugees and migrants: Humanitarian emergencies, voluntary resettlement and assisted voluntary returns,” which provided parliamentarians from the OSCE and Council of Europe an opportunity to discuss ways in which countries could share humanitarian responsibilities particularly regarding Libya and other countries in North Africa as well as the Middle East.

The committee also discussed upcoming activities and the feasibility for field visits considering the context of the pandemic.

For more information on the work of the OSCE PA's Ad Hoc Committee on Migration, please click here.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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