IOM Sarajevo launches report funded by the IOM Development Fund

Date Publish: 
Monday, March 16, 2015


IOM Sarajevo launches report funded by the IOM Development Fund

SARAJEVO, 16 March – Today in Sarajevo, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) launched the report, ‘Mapping Major Migration Flows Over the Territory of Western Balkan Countries, 2009-2013'. This report was produced by IOM with the aim of supporting Western Balkan governments in formulating adequate policies to enhance the management of increasing mixed migration flows from, through and to the Western Balkans region. The report presents findings based on a mapping of the main regular and irregular migration flows through the territory of the Western Balkans in the period 2009-2013. The report presents migration to and from WB countries for the purposes of work, education and family reunification; irregular entry and stay of extra regional migrants; international protection; return of Western Balkan citizens under Readmission Agreements; and trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants in the region. Opening the event, IOM Sub-Regional Coordinator for the Western Balkans, Gianluca Rocco, highlighted the importance of the report in assisting governments and national and international stakeholders in assessing current migration trends and formulating tailored and evidence-based policy and operational responses.

“This is a growing issue that requires a regional approach, for which an assessment of the situation on the ground within the region is crucial. The launching of this study allows us to bring together all relevant stakeholders, in order to not only present the findings, but discuss recommendations for next steps. The findings of this research will serve to provide a basis for activities developed under the IOM – UNHCR Regional Action Plan for the Western Balkans, developed in close cooperation with UNHCR”, said Mr. Rocco. Presenting the findings of the study regarding irregular transit migration through the Western Balkans, IOM Project Development Officer, Harry Smith, highlighted the increase in irregular migrants of extra regional origin detected transiting through the Western Balkans. “This phenomenon attests to the continued importance of the Balkans Route for transit irregular migration, and the widening of the EU’s external borders with the Western Balkans, as well as the existence of established smuggling networks, will likely see the region remain a key transit route for irregular migrants seeking entry into the European Union. These migrants are at risk of injury and violence at the hands of smugglers and other criminal groups and susceptible to exploitation during transit, and it is critical to further develop cross-border cooperation to better manage these flows”, said Mr. Smith.

Presenting findings concerning asylum seekers and trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants, IOM Project Manager, Andrea Dabizzi, highlighted that these issues are of significant concern in and around the Western Balkans. “Flows of asylum seekers still constitutes an issue of concern in the Western Balkans region, both for asylum seekers in transit through the region, whose aim is to reach the EU, as well as Western Balkan asylum seekers in the EU. Further, smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings are still critical issues. The majority of trafficking victims are domestic nationals or citizens of neighbouring countries. In addition to sexual exploitation, human trafficking for forced labour has increased. Whilst legislation has been adopted in all countries, institutional frameworks are more diverse and in need of harmonization. Cooperation at the regional level and with EU actors should be strengthened to counter these issues more effectively, from the availability and comparability of data to the synchronization of analysis and harmonization of responses,” said Mr. Dabizzi.

For more information, please contact: Edita Selimbegovic, IOM PR Coordinator

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