Signs to different sites in Hellinikon Complex, Greece

Migration Policy is Not Working, says coalition of NGOs on the eve of EU Council Meeting on Migration

As EU Ministers gather to take new steps on the Migration Partnership Framework – a policy agreed a year ago in response to increased migration to Europe - 18 civil society organisations, including Save the Children, Care International and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), believe that the policy is failing migrants, including migrant children. In a statement, they have outlined their recommendations for a migration policy that works.


The controversial policy has involved using EU development aid to partner with countries of origin and transit, mainly in Africa, to create positive and negative incentives for them to co-operate in the field of migration. The countries the EU prioritised were Niger, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Senegal and Mali, alongside 16 others.

NGOs are concerned that the policy disregards the drivers of migration– conflict, extreme poverty, lack of protection for children, lack of access to education – and therefore risks creating solutions which are short-sighted and unsustainable.

"We believe this current policy is ineffective," says Ester Asin from Save the Children.

"The limited results highlighted in the report [progress report published by Council on 14 June] show that a short-sighted focus on increased border controls and returns is not a sustainable solution. On the contrary, many people, including children, continue to move and take even more dangerous journeys."

"Migration is not a problem to be solved," says Céline Mias from CARE International.

"If we want to manage people’s mobility in a humane way, we need to look at the bigger picture. Good governance, rule of law, equitable trade, fair taxation, climate change policies and sustainable private investment are all instrumental to long term development and eradication of extreme inequality."

"One of the biggest gaps in the EU’s migration agenda remains the lack of safe and regular pathways and access to protection. Let’s not forget that those reaching Europe are a small percentage of people moving globally. A genuine objective of regulating flows and saving lives must include more safe and regular channels to seek asylum, including through humanitarian admission, resettlement, family reunification, and other safe and regular admission schemes," says Rikke Friis from the Danish Refugee Council.

Measures to tighten border controls in partner countries increase the risk of human rights violations. They also ignore the human rights abuses that force people to move in the first place.

"There is no short-term solution that doesn’t violate human rights," continues Ester Asin.

"The high focus on returns to volatile contexts such as Afghanistan and Somalia will put the lives of people, and especially children, at risk. Protection concerns are completely overlooked. Yet Save the Children research in the Horn of Africa shows that children facing violence, neglect or abuse are more likely to move in search of safety. Despite many promises, we see limited investments in long-term solutions for children like strengthening national child protection systems or providing quality education."

NGOs are calling on the EU to help create these long-term solutions by looking at the bigger picture that forces people to leave, addressing drivers and root causes, as well as establishing more safe pathways for asylum-seekers and expanding opportunities for regular migration.

Céline Mias from CARE International adds:

"The EU has an overarching Global Strategy which purports to take a long-term view and commits the EU to invest in context analysis to understand drivers, but its migration policy is not following this line. It’s a shame that instead of investing in poverty eradication, and advocating for better human rights protection in countries of origin, the EU is diverting funds and energy to short-term, unprincipled, and unstrategic solutions."

Read the statement 'Towards a migration policy that works' here

Signatories to the statement are Amnesty International, Care International, CNCD-11.11.11, 11.11.11, Danish Refugee Council, EuroMed Rights, European Evangelical Alliance, ICMC Europe, Medecins du Monde, Minority Rights Group Europe -Minority Rights Group International, Open Society European Policy Institute, Oxfam, PAX, PICUM, Plan International, Save the Children, Terre des Hommes, Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen.