2022 was a watershed moment for migration governance, as the war in Ukraine and its repercussions have triggered levels of displacement unseen since World War II, nearing the total numbers of refugees to the 2015-2016 figures. Also other destination regions witnessed similar developments throughout the year.
In contrast, as observed in the recently published Migration Outlook by ICMPD, 2022 has also seen unprecedented solidarity by the international community towards Ukraine. On another note, when it comes to labour migration the newly- announced Migration Partnerships with a focus on labour mobility among EU member states and non EU countries may be promising in the coming years.
In light of these developments in the European area and taking the opportunity that the new year brings, we analysed our global portfolio of ongoing MIEUX+ projects or “Actions” through a new lens.
2022: a year of multiple shocks to the system
Conflicts and economic instability represent some of the main drivers for human mobility. However, 2022 has shown how other triggers can play a major role when in conjunction with political tensions: food insecurity, supply chain disruptions and slow onset events caused by climate change.
The War in Ukraine
Aside from the massive displacement of Ukrainian nationals, the mobilisation of men ordered by the Russian government, together with the deterioration of the ongoing conflict, resulted in a significant exodus of Russian nationals to Armenia and Central Asia countries looking for employment opportunities and to relocate permanently.
This represents an inversion for the traditional migration flows in the region, which had traditionally from Central Asia to Russia.
Through our Action in Kyrgyzstan on labour mobility, ongoing since June 2021, we are already supporting the government to strengthen its capacities and the protection of migrant workers' rights, setting the foundations for a strong rights-based labour migration policy that can withstand shifting realities.
As over 5 million Ukrainians, especially women and children, escaped to other European countries in search of relief, the Eastern Partnership countries, especially Moldova, have been some of the most affected by this refugee inflow.
In this country, MIEUX+ was already working with the Ministry of Internal Affairs prior to the conflict to develop a practical handbook and training course on the monitoring and evaluation in the application of integrated border management. This Action is part of a wider effort by the Moldovan authorities to develop a comprehensive and integrated border management system, ensuring both national security and the conceptual and operational compatibility between national and European institutions.
The war in Ukraine has also put the protection of citizens living abroad back on the political agenda of many countries around the world. In 2023, MIEUX+ will continue to work with partner authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo on a projects focusing on the management of Congolese abroad and the protection and consular assistance of nationals living abroad.
Food security and the global supply chains crisis
Another destabilising factor is represented by food insecurity and supply chain disruptions – as triggered by the Russian aggression against Ukraine.
In Africa, our partners at the COMESA Secretariat had already observed and wished to act on the negative effects of the COVID-19 health crisis to border trade. This led to a project that has been supporting the Secretariat in adopting new guidelines to manage the movement of persons, goods and services in complex situations such as business closures, disruption of agricultural production, and loss of employment and revenue.
Particularly, global economic shocks associated with demographic imbalances, high levels of crime and general insecurity have a strong impact on the Latin America and the Caribbean region.
For example, Costa Rica's migration profile has been shaped for years by the deterioration of socioeconomic and political conditions in countries such as Colombia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, and resulted in the arrival of economic migrants and asylum seekers.
The topic of integration has been high on the political agenda for some time. In this context, and following previous interventions in this area, we will finalise our ongoing project and support the drafting of the next phase of the Costa Rica National Integration Plan (NIP) 2023-2027 with the Directorate General of Migration and Immigration.
Looking at the Latin America and the Caribbean region, environmental degradation, caused by climate change, natural disasters and man-made factors have determined major human displacement across the Gran Chaco region in recent years. With a variety of partners (government authorities, civil society organisations and academia), MIEUX+ experts will develop solutions to govern the migration flows in this area in a safe and orderly manner.
What is in store for 2023?
The war in Ukraine, a global supply crisis and the economic hardships will continue to act among the main drivers for migration flows this year.
European Member States can still shape the future of migration flows by finalising the European Pact on Migration and Asylum, as well creating new and bolstering already existing partnerships especially in the field of labour and legal mobility with partner countries outside of the EU.
In regards to MIEUX+, 2023 will be a busy year for the team as we approach the end of the fourth phase, currently set for December 2023. The team will implement more than 90 activities including training sessions, workshops and knowledge exchange sessions in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and in the EU Neighbourhood. In addition, new standardised courses on training skills and migration related topics will be released later this year.
We will publish news about the results of these Actions regularly: stay tuned for more updates!