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International Organization for Migration (IOM) as the EMN coordinator for Slovakia organised the 7th EMN Educational Seminar on Migration entitled” Impacts and Opportunities of International Migration“ which was held in Bratislava, Slovakia on 20 - 22 August 2019. The seminar welcomed 15 experts from international organizations and institutions, non-governmental sector, research institutions and academia from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Senegal, Switzerland, The Netherlands and United Kingdom. Lecturers shared with participants current trends and experiences concerning the relationship between politics and migration, how and why people decide to migrate, good governance as an approach to migration, and migration in an increasingly urbanized world. More than 70 participants included representatives of state and public administration, state implementation bodies, intergovernmental organizations, non-profit sector, think-tanks, academia and independent experts. Representatives of EMN National Contact Points from other EU Member States and Norway also participated at the seminar.

During the seminar participants could experience virtual 360° reality stories (https://www.jungeroemer.net/escape_velocity/) where they could put themselves into minds and shoes of refugees. They could for example listen to Emran (19) who came from Afghanistan to Austria in October 2015 because there are no bombs exploding or little Baharak (8) who fled from Iran with her parents and has no choice but to translate for parents, in all kinds of also difficult situations.  Andreas Fraunberger from Junge Römer production company answered questions of the participants during the first seminar day. The project was funded by the Wirtschaftsagentur Wien. Devices were kindly provided by the UNHCR Austria.

Apart from the day sessions, the programme included also two public events. The first one was screening of documentary movie The Good Postman following the election for mayor of an almost deserted Bulgarian village on the Turkish border. The second was theatre play by Nová scéna Theatre Home (where is yours?) followed by discussion with experts on how to talk about migration in an accurate and balanced way.

You can find summaries of the presentations below.

Presentations, podcasts and other materials are available on https://www.emnconference.sk/lecturers-and-outputs.html.

1st day of the seminar

The seminar was officially opened by Zuzana Vatráľová, Head of the IOM Office in Slovakia, who introduced EMN activities. She drew attention to significant rise of extremism, hate speech  and misinformation (unverified or false information) concerning migration or refugees. In correlation to the Seminar, she said that, regular communication of experts in the field to the public based on facts and expertise contribute to elimination of hate speech and impede the dissemination of hoaxes.

The next speaker was Ola Henrikson, Director of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) of the Regional Office for the European Economic Area, the European Union and NATO based in Brussels.

In the lecture he highlights key facts and figures about global migratory trends and looks at the (future) migration situation in Europe. He stresses the reasons why most migrants move across the borders and how they contribute to the world economy. He mentions challenges that free movement in Europe faces nowadays and describes main routes of irregular migration into the EU. He summarizes EU’s internal and external actions in the field of migration since 2011 and gives examples of IOM’s support to the EU in this regard.

Giuseppe De Giorgi, Admiral (r) and former Chief of Staff of the Italian Navy from Italy seeks to shed more light on the current situation in the Mediterranean Sea from the international law perspective. Giuseppe de Giorgi explains fundamental principles and elements of the law of the sea: the duty to rescue persons in distress at sea, granting humanitarian treatment to the survivors, and delivering survivors to a place of safety. He focuses also on relation between sovereignty of a state and search and rescue (SAR) guidelines as well as on the role of non-governmental organizations in SAR efforts. He demonstrates how interpretation of the law changes with the popular sentiment on what happened in the Mediterranean on the case of Italian search and rescue operation Mare Nostrum.

Nicolas Rollason, Partner and Head of Immigration Department, Kingsley Napley LLP, United Kingdom in the lecture points out how attitudes to immigration translate into populist parties’ success. Nicolas Rollason provides a brief definition of populism, structural reasons for its origin and rise, especially when it comes to far-right and anti-immigration populism. He debates why they are a threat to the liberal democracy and if attitudes to immigration in the United Kingdom and Europe as such are changeable. In the end he suggests possible responses and ways out of far-right and anti-immigration populism which seems to be and continue to be relatively successful at EU level and among EU Member States.

Boldizsár Nagy, the associated professor at the Central European University focuses in his lecture on nationality as the core cause of migrants’ vulnerability together with exit and entry conditionality embodied in borders. Boldizsár Nagy further discusses the right to move and settle freely as the conceptual (and historic) solution and addresses the admission of asylum seekers and refugees. Afterwards he gets to the matrix of rights of the four main categories of migrants (regular migrants, asylum-seekers, refugees, persons with no right to enter/stay) depending on their qualification. He then pays attention to selected vulnerabilities of these migrants as well as to vulnerabilities of helping non-governmental organizations and neighbouring countries.

The lecture of Richard Danziger, Director of the Regional Office for West and Central Africa in Senegal of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), revolves around one of the under-explored major factors which causes people to move from their countries - poor governance including corruption. Richard Danziger supports the existing research done on this issue with real-life examples mainly from West African countries where young people complain about deteriorating quality of education and health care system, lower investment in job-producing sector, or inability to employ themselves because of nepotism, preferred ethnicity or resources to pay a bribe. He discusses the role of free and fair elections and scale in which democratically elected governments are responding to the people’s needs. He points out also the role of donor countries in this regard.

Melissa Siegel, Professor of Migration Studies at Maastricht University in Netherlands, unveils eleven key linkages between migration and corruption and debates if corruption facilitates irregular migration, enables protection of refugees, stimulates migration desires, impedes the development benefits of migration, discourages return migration or promotes the transnational ties of elites. Furthermore, she discusses whether corruption is sustained by migration, whether social remittances reduce corruption, whether migration upends corrupt social structures and if corruption undermines assistance to migrants, as well as the transfer of corruption across borders. She defines what is corruption, its scale, methods, patterns, division according to sectors, while using examples from the practice.

The lecture of Vicki Squire, Professor of International Politics at the University of Warwick, United Kingdom, is devoted to defining and examining securitization and politicisation processes as well as their mutual relation. Vicki Squire considers the impacts of securitization and politicisation at multiple levels (with primary focus on Europe from 2015) - within high level politics and on public responses to migration. Based on real-life examples, she explores the securitisation of (irregular) migration and its different modes: migration and terrorism linkage, military and intelligence based action, emergency and anticipatory interventions. She discusses whether securitisation of an issue can become cumulative over time as well as how desecuritisation works.

Presentations, podcasts and other materials are available on https://www.emnconference.sk/lecturers-and-outputs.html.

2nd day of the seminar

The second lecture of Melissa Siegel on the Seminar outlines myths and misconceptions around who is (perceived) a migrant, migration trends, migration-development nexus, effects of migration and migration policies. Melissa Siegel debunks the following myths and thinks of ways to change the current migration narrative: migration is at an all-time high
and accelerating fast; most migration is from developing countries to developed countries; refugees are mainly hosted in developed (European) countries; poverty is the main cause of South-North migration; development (aid) will reduce migration. She also discusses misconceptions about immigrants taking jobs from natives, reducing the wages of natives or causing more crime, and challenges statements that migration policies have become more restrictive and migration restrictions reduce migration.

The lecture of Blanca Tapia who is the  Programme Manager at Communications and Events Unit of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in Austria provides list of communication know-hows in the field of human rights and migration topics. Blanca Tapia presents ten keys which communicators and practitioners should use to effectively talk about human rights and take lead in interpretation of available facts as well as to create hope-based communication strategy. She also introduces FRA’s recently published e-Media Toolkit to support quality journalism in Europe. She explains why framing of the topic matters in the current online era where people have limited time for receiving information.

The second lecture of Vicki Squire on the Seminar unpacks smuggling and looks at related nuances through testimonies of people making journey across the Mediterranean in 2015 and 2016 (focus on the central and eastern Mediterranean routes). Vicki Squire provides a brief summary of EU anti-smuggling in terms of policies and politics. She considers anti-smuggling from a migratory perspective and assesses the direct impact of the EU policy agenda on people on the move. She reflects on the problems of anti-smuggling in relation to the first-hand narrations of smuggling experiences stemming from 257 in-depth qualitative interviews.

The second day also included Scenario Exploration System role-play workshop exercise on the topic: Migrants Journeys and the role of policies

The activity is supposed to help to put oneself in a position of a person who is deciding on his/her future within certain local, regional, or global socio-economic context, whether to opt for the migration as a life strategy. It seeks to point out the intended and unintended impacts of migration policies on migrants’ decision making and others involved. The activity is focused mainly on the decision-making processes, i.e. the chain of thoughts that precedes leaving the country of origin. This workshop exercise was adjusted for the seminar purposes by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Slovakia and can be used during the different educational activities of National Contact Point Slovakia. In case of interest to be provided by these materials for educational purposes contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Richard Danziger in his second lecture, instead of categorizing migrants theoretically, uses regional mobility mapping in West and Central Africa to show the complexity of human movement and scale of mixed migration in various world regions. Richard Danziger focuses on defining international migration and informing about migrant populations in the region of more than twenty countries, migration flows, labour mobility, transhumance and inter-regional trends. He identifies main areas of origin of migrants heading towards Libya or Niger as well as main areas of origin of migrants assisted to return and areas of ongoing conflict, violence and insecurity in the region. He then explains how IOM is assisting migrants stranded in Libya, Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso to voluntarily return home.

The lecture of Montserrat Feixas Vihé, the Regional Representative for Central Europe of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Hungary, refers to UNHCR’s annual publication Global Trends which is built around acknowledging that the main driver for human movement is survival. Montserrat Feixas Vihé summarizes most striking aspects of migration nowadays in comparison with past decades and outlines possible solutions to the situation in the Mediterranean. She explains why population movements are growing and are unstoppable and shows ways to manage them globally. She discusses in detail the impacts of globalization, lower travelling costs, mixed nature of migration flows and reasons to migrate, increasing xenophobia, political polarization of societies and blurring migration terms.

Presentations, podcasts and other materials are available on https://www.emnconference.sk/lecturers-and-outputs.html.

3rd day of the seminar

Next speaker was Mathias Czaika, Professor in Migration and Integration and Head of the Department for Migration and Globalization at Danube University Krems, Austria.  He explains why in a global context of rising inequality, development discrepancies and environmental stress, a surprisingly small number of people are becoming migrants. Mathias Czaika discusses shifts in global income distribution and poverty, potential versus actual migration as well as the reasons of non-migration (trapped and voluntary immobility). He introduces the scale of the global migration potential based on monetary, but also on broader development and human indicators (access to basic drinking water services etc.).

The lecture of Jill Helke, Director of International Cooperation and Partnerships Division, International Organization for Migration (IOM) Headquarters in Switzerland, addresses the role of sub-national governments, particularly city mayors and local authorities, in trends of migration and urbanization. Jill Helke mainly responds to why cities have become prominent actors in migration discourse and what challenges and opportunities migration brings to cities. She also outlines good or innovative practices emerging in different regions of the world in terms of cities’ leadership role and engagement. In the end answers how the growing importance of cities affects research, migration policies and migration governance debates.

The next lecturer was Lefteris Papagiannakis, the Vice-Mayor for Migrants, Refugees and Municipal Decentralization of the Municipality of Athens. Based on the migration and refugee reality of 2015 and the 10-year financial crisis, the lecture focuses on steps the City of Athens took to deal with rising numbers of asylum-seekers entering Greece and its capital. Lefteris Papagiannakis points out how the City was ensuring provision of services to its new inhabitants and social cohesion – from administrative reform through engagement between local authorities and humanitarian actors in Athens to cooperation with the private sector and civil society. He also introduces the main pillars of the City’s strategic plan for integration as well as how innovation can promote social inclusion and local governance.

The lecture of Peter Barnett, Head of Libraries, Advice, Health and Information Service from Coventry City Council, United Kingdom, covers the City’s current migration and integration activities, including those within the Building Bridges project and the bigger regional project with Birmingham and Wolverhampton. Peter Barnett talks about Coventry as the International City of Peace and Reconciliation which engaged in the resettlement of Syrian refugees back in 2013. He introduces libraries as a key part of the support for refugees and newly arrived communities. He mentions also some of the other specific interventions which Coventry, being the 11th largest city in the United Kingdom developed over the last few years.

Kathrine Jensen from the Policy Analyst, EU Policy Lab of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. In the lecture, Kathrine Jensen,  Policy Analyst, EU Policy Lab of the Joint Research Centre, European Commission in Belgium, presents the main findings of the Joint Research Centre’s recent report “Demographic Scenarios for the EU:
Migration, Population and Education”. The report aims to respond to the questions raised in the wake of migration situation in 2015 about how increased influx of migrants could impact the future of European demography. Kathrine Jensen takes several projections to show if immigration can prevent population ageing in the EU and discusses the impact of economic integration of foreigners on EU labour-force dependency ratio. Afterwards, Kathrine Jensen highlights also which migration drivers can play a role in changing world demographics, particularly when it comes to rapid population growth.

Presentations, podcasts and other materials are available on https://www.emnconference.sk/lecturers-and-outputs.html.